Apple has brought many innovative features to the way we interact with and use touch screens and continuing their development of the touch screen interface a new patent application has just published for a touch screen that also has a buzzing or tingling feedback built in that works together with the touch sensitive mechanism to take the user experience to new levels. While this is not strictly a printed electronics approach this is exactly the sort of thing that printed/plastic electronics manufacturing methods might be applied to.
US20100156818 was filed on 6 April 2009 and published on 24 June 2010. The inventors are Bobby Burrough and Benjamin Pope. The application describes how the haptic feedback that can be generated by producing sensations from haptic actuators ( e.g. piezoelectric materials) that are felt by the fingers as they move over the screen. Some simple examples are described such as varying the sensation felt as the fingers are moved closer or further apart in the pinch movements that enable zooming of the display. I would imagine that the variations on effects that can be produced are endless and many applications will be developed to make use of this feature once the system is available.
An illustration of the mechanism from the patent application is shown here:
The first claim is:
An apparatus providing multi-touch haptic feedback, comprising a touch pad having a touch sensitive surface arranged to receive a user provided multi-touch event associated with at least two different locations on the touch sensitive surface; a multi-touch detection mechanism operatively coupled to the touch sensitive surface that detects the multi-touch event and generates a corresponding a multi-touch signal; and a plurality of haptic feedback devices operatively coupled to the multi-touch detection mechanism and the touch sensitive surface cooperatively arranged to concurrently provide tactile feedback at each of the at least two different locations on the touch sensitive surface in response to the multi-touch signal.