July 23, 2008
Virtual iPhone keypad button being developed
One of the major disadvantages of the iPhone is that when you use the keyboard, inevitable you end up keying the wrong button. There is no surefire way knowing that you are pressing the correct button. This has prompted some researchers to come up with a virtual button that will imitate the vibrations felt when one uses an actually key. Apparently the user will be able to feel the edges of each key and will be able to identify where each key is without checking visually. Researcher Eve Hoggan, from the University of Glasgow’s Department of Computing Science, said: “We found that, compared to a standard keyboard, touchscreen keypads were less accurate in terms of text input. Without being able to identify through touch when a key had been selected there was a significant increase in errors made. When in a rush it can be very time consuming to check each character has been entered correctly and is particularly difficult when travelling. Feedback through the finger is more natural and the brain can process it faster than visual feedback. By providing tactile feedback we will bring the iPhone keypad close to the performance of a real physical keyboard.” By running their fingers over the keypad a wave of vibration is triggered signifying a smooth rounded button. When the key is selected and released different vibration patterns give the user the feel of a key snapping back into place.
Co-researcher Malcolm Hall added: “The idea we have developed is very simple to apply because the vibration technology is already included in the iPhone. This technology is also not only restricted to the iPhone but can be applied to a range of other phones and electronic devices.”