New Apple haptics patent application reveals diamond-layered trackpad that simulates wood, other textures

“Apple has been working on delivering advanced haptics for some time now,” Jack Purcher reports for Patently Apple. “Most recently Apple’s new MacBook and MacBook Pro update introduced Force Touch to its trackpad.”

“Today the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals new advances in haptics that will allow users to feel cold steel or the heat of a hot cement surface on iDevice displays or advanced trackpads on MacBooks,” Purcher reports. “In fact, Apple notes that in order to deliver the best haptic experience that could deliver such sensations, they’ll introduce a trackpad surface made of diamond material which has very interesting properties.”

“Apple’s invention relates to systems and methods for simulating materials using touch surfaces,” Purcher reports. “In one or more embodiments, a system for simulating materials using touch surfaces may include at least one touch surface, at least one actuator or at least one temperature control device, and at least one control unit. The control unit may control the actuator or the temperature control device to cause at least a portion of the touch surface to simulate a material.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s new Force Touch trackpad, with its spooky cool simulated clicks, is only the beginning!

Related articles:
ZDNet’s Gewirtz on Apple’s refreshed MacBook Pro: ‘Holy Mother of God, that’s fast!’ – April 21, 2015
Computerworld reviews Apple’s new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Force Touch: Confidently recommended – March 31, 2015
IT Pro reviews Apple’s updated 13-inch MacBook Pro: ‘Genuinely impressive’ – March 27, 2015
Vroom! The new MacBook Pro literally is twice as fast as its predecessor – March 23, 2015
Apple updates 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display and MacBook Air – March 9, 2015


  1. From the source article:
    Apple notes that the diamond material may be a layer of chemical vapor deposited diamond, such as a layer of carbon vapor deposited diamond. Such a layer of diamond may provide extremely high thermal conductivity (which may exceed that of copper by approximately a factor of five), extreme mechanical hardness (providing exceptional wear resistance), and/or optical broadband optical transparency (being transparent from approximately ultraviolet to far infrared).

    Amazing. But I worry for the surface of my fingers!

    1. Hilarious: Three 1 ★ *dings* because you said ‘Samsung’.

      IOW: Surprise. Samsung is AGAIN in such desperate straits that they’re paying anti-Apple trolls.


      *ding*a*ding*ding*me*down*!!! 😆 😆 😆

  2. I had a chance to play with the new MacBooks in the Apple store yesterday. Keyboard would take some getting used to, but the trackpad is pretty damn awesome. It might take some slight getting used to (the click is a bit “weird”), but I had no issues using it at all.

  3. MDN, ‘is only the beginning!’

    So true.

    Apple is not a one-trick pony. I believe that every product and technology that they introduce to the public, already has a private life-cycle known only to Apple. I read at one time that Apple was working on a way to simulate physical buttons on the iPhone. The two technologies that they were working on were.

    1. A material that could change its’ shape depending on applied current. They could cover the iPhone screen with this and warp the surface to create buttons (like keys on the virtual keyboard.)

    2. Advanced haptics that would create a different texture over buttons and shapes on the keyboard. The iPhone would track the users touch on the screen and when the fingers moved over the button (or shape) then the haptic engine would create the appropriate sensation.

    Either of these technologies would provide a new way for the visually impaired to use the iPhone and would open up a world of new interface items for developers. Imagine how this could be used for video games, maps, and even a new way for people to shop for products (by the feel of the material or surface).

    With the introduction of the Apple Watch, the Force Touch Trackpad and the patent application mentioned in this article… it sounds like Apple has moved in the direction of using the haptic engine to simulate tactile feedback.

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