One major complaint about the iPhone has been the lack of tactile feedback from its touchscreen keypad. Feeling a keypress is an important part of the text entry experience for many users, and not having that feeling is a significant shortcoming for the iPhone and many other devices. But boffins at Nokia have been working on a system called Haptikos that builds in tactile feedback to its touchscreen devices. Red Ferret Journal had a play with Haptikos on a hacked N770 tablet, and says it worked really well.
“The basic technology is not that difficult,” he explained, “We inserted two small piezo sensor pads under the screen and engineered in a 0.1mm movement in the screen itself. What’s taken the time has been fine tuning the movement and response to mimic exactly the sensation of pressing a real key.”
The problem in perfecting the tech – codenamed Haptikos, meaning ‘to touch’ – lies in how our fingers experience a key press. We actually feel two movements, in and out, and these movements and the associated audio have to be perfectly attuned to the speed and responsiveness of a real keyboard. In use, the touch feedback on the demo device was near on perfect. Each press of a key returned a clunky click and tactile snap on the touchscreen, which made typing feel incredibly responsive and very usable on the smooth screen surface. In fact it was hard to remember that you were using a touchscreen keyboard.