Apple is at it again. Its new super-thin MacBook will come with a trackpad that's not only capable of detecting a range of pressure applied to all parts of the pad, but can also produce physical sensations that trick the user's fingers into feeling things that aren't actually there.
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As Wired explains, "Imagine an on-screen keyboard where you could orient yourself by feeling the grooves between the letters, or a version of Angry Birds where you could see the tension in the slingshot as you drew it further back."
Unlike current Apple laptop trackpads that can only be clicked at the bottom, the new trackpad has sensors located at the corners to detect clicks and pressure forces from any location.
For example, a light touch could let the user wants move the cursor without clicking and dragging; a more forceful touch could produce the click and drag.
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This technology will also allow users to, say, speed up the fast forward of a video by pressing harder on the trackpad, or "force click" to pull up a definition of a selected word.
What's more, the laptop's Taptic Engine has an electromagnetic motor that tricks the fingers into feeling bumps, ridges, and edges that aren't actually there.
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Visual artist Alex Gollner provided some details on his blog about the laptops new "bumpy pixels." When using the Apple's updated iMovie 10.0.7, which has context-specific haptic feedback, he found that:
"When dragging a video clip to its maximum length, you'll get feedback letting you know you've hit the end of the clip. Add a title and you'll get feedback as the title snaps into position at the beginning or end of a clip. Subtle feedback is also provided with the alignment guides that appear in the Viewer when cropping clips."
The MacBook's haptic capabilities add a new dimension to the relationship between what users see on screen and what they feel.
Apple is expected to expand this technology to its iPhone and iPad next year, after introducing the technology in the smartwatch, according to the Wall Street Journal.