Microsoft Research is currently working on a new technology that brings a more advanced haptic feedback to touchscreens on the displays of devices like smartphones, tablets, and computers.
The haptic feedback system we currently use and are familiar with involve tiny vibrations from a motor in the phone that are sometimes accompanied with a little sound whenever you type or tap certain buttons. Microsoft envisions a new and a more practical way of haptic feedback on devices. Instead of having the entire handset vibrate, users would feel individual buttons with their own vibration, giving it a textured feeling to certain parts of the screen. For instance, in the image above, users will feel a rougher surface within the black tiles as compared to white tiles displayed on the screen of the phone.
Besides touchscreens, Microsoft is also taking the approach to touch-enabled gadgets such as the Surface Type Cover keyboard by Microsoft. Rather than a vibration, users will feel a tiny electrically induced contraction right under each touch-key they tap giving it a sense of click on every keystroke.
The idea is to enable users to distinguish each individual key on touch-enabled devices or feel the separations between one texture in the device’s UI. It is also proven by Microsoft Research that with this feature enabled, people tend to type faster and with more confidence on a mobile device.
Currently, there are no household devices that offer these kinds of features and people would still have to look at their device while they are operating it. It would definitely be a welcome change if Microsoft succeed in introducing the features commercially.