“If you’re into magic tricks, stop by an Apple Store and park yourself in front of a new 13-inch MacBook Pro. Click around on the trackpad for a while. Voila! That’s the trick: It’s not actually clicking,” Kyle Vanhemert reports for Wired.
“The illusion is one of Apple’s latest innovations: the Taptic Engine. Relying on a technique pioneered in research labs 20 years ago, it uses an electromagnetic motor to trick your fingers into feeling things that aren’t actually there. The motor’s precisely tuned oscillation makes it feel like you’re depressing a mechanical button, when you’re really just mashing your finger against a stationary piece of glass,” Vanhemert reports. “I tried it at the Apple Store, and to call the effect convincing is an understatement. Within seconds, I was hunched over the machine like a lunatic, scrutinizing the trackpad from inches away, utterly convinced I was feeling a real click even though I knew there wasn’t one.”
“This phantom click is but one trick the haptic trackpad might be able to achieve. A recent update to iMovie shows Apple already is experimenting with others,” Vanhemert reports. “These haptic flourishes are a hint of what’s to come: A future where we feel interfaces with our fingers — not just on desktop trackpads but on smartphones as well… In theory, the trackpad should be capable of yielding all sorts of illusions—clicks, indentations, holes, bumps, and other types of bas relief-like textures.”
Much more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: The potential here is significant. Hopefully, there’s a way for Apple to protect their work from being knocked-off. Apple’s trackpads, even those without Taptic Engines, are already unmatched by the rest of the industry. The MacBook’s new trackpad is so far out in front, some outclassed Windows PC assembler – *cough, Samsung, cough* – might be tempted. We’d suggest patents, but we all know how well those work at protecting Apple’s IP.