Late last night we were mulling over our invitation to the Apple launch event this evening and pondering the significance of it saying "We have something you really have to see. And Touch." Historically there has always been meaning behind every last word in Apple's invites - remember the iPhone 4S launch that introduced Siri? The invite said "Let's talk iPhone." - so clearly there's something significant about touch.
Then, technology Editor at The Guardian, Charles Arthur, wrote a piece that flicked the mental switch. He'd made the connection between a haptic feedback company he'd visited recently, called Senseg, and the new Apple launch. He'd seen them in January and they'd kept very quiet about mentioning specifics of who they're working with. However, we saw them last year and they were rather more candid, admitting that "We are currently working with a certain tablet maker based in Cupertino,"
So, is the iPad HD, or whatever it's called, set to have haptic feedback? Let's just say we may not be as surprised as some.
What is haptic feedback?
Haptic feedback is the sensation of touch added to interactions with touchscreen devices. Traditionally on mobile devices this has been limited to those crummy vibrators that double up for notification duty when your phone's in silent mode, but more and more effort has recently been putting into improving the level of feedback on offer.
What is Senseg?
Senseg is a Finnish company that has pioneered a new haptic feedback technology that uses electrical impulses to stimulate the nerves in the end of your finger. The technology works using an extra layer applied to the whole surface of the screen rather than just a few buzzing spots. The result is that it can recreate the sensation of different surfaces that correspond to what's onscreen. Silk, sandpaper, a ball, rippling corrugated iron, all these can be emulated by this clever tech.
When we tried the technology last year we had mixed results with yours truly struggling to sense the electric pulses through the tough manly skin of my fingers, but ex-news editor Gordon Kelly could quite distinctly feel the changing surfaces and patterns.
An exciting new development for touch technology or a bit of a gimmick? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.