There are some last minute, highly speculative rumors circulating that Apple's "And touch" in their iPad 3 event invitation may refer to their use of electrostatic technology to dynamically simulate textures on the display. The Next Web's Matthew Panzarino threw it out as wild speculation last night:
Imagine a touch sensitive screen that could take on the friction properties of paper, the plastic of a keyboard or the rough resistance of a patch of grass. The possibilities for art, learning and gaming are immense.
Both The Guardian and Pocket-Link have now jumped on the same electrostatic bandwagon. All of them focus on a small Swedish startup called Senseg that has developed a system called E-Sense which appears to give texture to a touchscreen.
By using "tixels" generated by electric fields from elements embedded around the screen, it can make areas of the screen feel rough, ridged or rounded – and change those just as the screen pixels can change.
The technology transmits electro-vibration stimulus via an ultra-thin coating which is applied to the touch interface on a device. The coating can be applied to almost any surface and because there are no moving parts, it can be applied to any size of device.
Senseg patented solution creates a sophisticated sensation of touch using Coloumb’s force, the principle of attraction between electrical charges. By passing an ultra-low electrical current into the insulated electrode, Senseg’s Tixel™, the proprietary charge driver can create a small attractive force to finger skin. By modulating this attractive force a variety of sensations can be generated, from textured surfaces and edges to vibrations and more.
This is a really long shot and one I would personally file in the crazy rumors section. Maybe all this sudden attention on electrostatic touch feedback is purely coincidence but who would bet against Apple products using this technology in the near future; if it’s not already part of the iPad 3.
Check out the links below for more speculation and video demonstrations of the technology. What do you think, could this be Apple's big surprise?