Apple's Exploration of Pressure Sensitive Touch Screens Continues

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Apr 3, 2014.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple is exploring touch screen technology that determines pressure sensitivity using a combination of capacitive touch and infrared light sensing, according to a new patent application recently published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (via AppleInsider).

    The patent describes a method of determining the force of a user's touch on a capacitive screen using infrared transmit lines from transmitters and receivers positioned under the frame of the cover glass. Capacitive touch combined with light would determine both the position of the finger and distinguish a soft touch from a harder touch, allowing Apple to implement gestures that could vary with force.

    Using infrared light to determine where a user touches a screen is a method known as Frustrated Total Internal Reflection, or FTIR. FTIR is essentially a light-based way to detect multitouch, bouncing infrared light off of the touch screen to detect interference from a finger. When combined with capacitive touch, the interference measurements can also deduce force.

    FTIR has been used by Microsoft for its Perceptive Pixel products, as noted in Apple's patent application. Microsoft offers several large-screened multi-touch sensing devices that use FTIR and offers a technology called Microsoft PixelSense, which is used in the Samsung SUR40.

    As implemented by Microsoft, the FTIR technology, which uses cameras to detect light refracted by pressure, allows multiple people to use the device at once and it also recognizes and distinguishes objects that are not fingers.

    Though Apple has not yet built pressure sensitivity into the touch screens of its mobile devices, the company has been looking at various techniques for implementing pressure detection over the last several years. In addition to infrared light, Apple has explored force sensors, spring membranes, and pressure sensitive device casings.

    Given Apple's continued interest in pressure sensitive touch screens and competing products that already include pressure sensitivity, such as Microsoft's Surface Pro line of tablets, the implementation of the technology in some form or another seems like a logical step for Apple's future mobile devices.

    Article Link: Apple's Exploration of Pressure Sensitive Touch Screens Continues
  2. samcraig macrumors P6

    Jun 22, 2009
    So instead of going Wacom digitizing route - they're going to put the heavy lifting on the screen
  3. CrazyForApple macrumors 6502a


    Dec 31, 2012
    Buffalo, NY
  4. Z400Racer37 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 7, 2011
  5. mainer4101 macrumors member

    Jun 19, 2013
    Didn't they implement some sort of pressure sensitivity in the Garage Band app for iPad? I thought there was something like the harder you hit a drum the loaded the sound would be. Or is that something completely different?
  6. jclo Editor


    Staff Member

    Dec 7, 2012
    GarageBand uses the accelerometer to determine how hard the screen was tapped, but it's not super accurate.
  7. doug in albq Suspended

    doug in albq

    Oct 12, 2007
    I wonder if this technology could be used to detect finger placement before the finger touches the screen...for mouse-over-like effects on links, and whatnot?
  8. TWSS37 macrumors 65816

    Feb 4, 2011
  9. cynikal macrumors member

    Aug 12, 2003
    I can't be the only one who finds it at least a little bit comical/ironic how an interface with the name of Frustrated Total Internal Reflection, is being offered by Microsoft.. :) That pretty well sums up my experience with their O/S's at least!
  10. mozumder macrumors 6502a

    Mar 9, 2009
    They need a "hover" sensor for touch, to at least replicate the mouse pointer's hover functionality for all the websites that use CSS hover code.

    This is one of the more frustrating conversions to do between mouse/pointer vs. touch websites, since it affects operational usability and not just appearances.
  11. doug in albq Suspended

    doug in albq

    Oct 12, 2007
    See my post above yours...
  12. samcraig macrumors P6

    Jun 22, 2009
    Shhhhh. Don't re-align that reality distortion field on him without warning...
  13. philips macrumors regular


    Oct 14, 2004
    Baden-Württemberg, Germany
    ZOMG. Apple hasn't invented it yet, but Samsung and Microsoft are already copying it!!!

    P.S. The thing is, the pressure sensitive tech has one major problem on portable devices: they are, well, portable and often are held in the hand. Even if highly effective/precise method of measuring the pressure would emerge, it would still be a gimmick, because human hands are not as precise. Same applies to the Samsung's finger-hover-over-the-screen thingy.
  14. samcraig macrumors P6

    Jun 22, 2009
    Which is why for a phone or even tablet - the wacom stylus is probably the way to go when it comes to precision. Not that you couldn't have fun with pressure sensitive screens on a phone or tablet without one.

    This tech could also be used on a watch to avoid having side buttons as well...
  15. sualpine macrumors 6502


    May 13, 2013
    I love how they need to research this when Wacom is already on multiple tablets for Android and Windows.

    Is Apple too proud to license?
  16. theheadguy macrumors 65816

    Apr 26, 2005
    Desktop OS's yes. Mobile, no. Their mobile OS is pretty nice and has been for a while. Live tiles are very cool.
  17. Silver Box macrumors member

    Jul 20, 2011
    Velocity/Pressure sensitive keyboard/drum machine/DJ app? As a musician i say yes please! :)
  18. pgiguere1 macrumors 68020


    May 28, 2009
    Montreal, Canada
    This would indeed be a good solution for those not-so-touch-friendly websites that have hover animations that require you to press twice on every button when you want an actual click to register.
  19. Tankmaze macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2012
    Microsoft is innovating, who knew. But still good stuff.
  20. willcapellaro macrumors 6502

    Oct 20, 2011
    Probably not this tech, but projected capacitance sensors exist. Some displays and other products do use it. What you say would be a no-brainer, but I don't think they use it for that per se. It appears that they use the tech to increase the protective lens thickness to protect the product. So maybe Apple could swoop in and show the industry how it's done as usual, by having projected AND touch sensing in tandem.

    These guys use the projected touch tech:
    The pick-your-own soda machines are what I've used, and their screens are barely usable. But sturdy.
  21. KdParker macrumors 601


    Oct 1, 2010
    Not to toot MS horn but do you remember the Kinect.
  22. macduke macrumors 604


    Jun 27, 2007
    Central U.S.
    I really want a pressure-sensitive iPad for drawing, painting, and touching up photos. I also think you could do some really cool stuff with new gestures and technology to reject accidental touches.
  23. jarred125 macrumors 6502a

    Nov 8, 2011
    You must have difficulty using computers in general then. Beyond the new UI that most people hate because it's new .. Windows is a pretty simple OS.

    The fact that Apple hides modules and drivers from your view is just irritating to me. When something does go wrong .. hope you enjoy the command line (I actually do .. so .. whatever).
  24. Above The Gods, Apr 3, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2014

    Above The Gods macrumors member

    Feb 1, 2014
    New York
    Both of you guys are incorrect. The company that developed pressure sensitive touch technology for PixelSense (Perceptive Pixel) and Kinect were both bought by Microsoft. PixelSense has seen very little change since the acquisition in 2007, other than spec bumps. As for Kinect, that underlying technology is the same since 2008. What they've done is improve the accuracy slightly.

    This is like calling Google innovative because they bought a "smart" thermostat company.

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