iPad 3 speculated to have electrostatic touch technology for "textured" screen

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?

Source: The Next Web, The Guardian, Pocket-Lint


UK editor at iMore, mobile technology lover and air conditioning design engineer.

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There are 16 comments. Add yours.

motionblurred says:

There's always crazy rumors that pop up a day leading to an Apple announcement. It seems that Senseg is alluding to a relationship with Apple and this event. It's quite possible it's only for promotional purposes.
I would certainly love to see it happen though. Anything to give tactile on a touchscreen would be great. It would certainly make people forget that any other tablets exists if they don't feel that way already.

congressdj says:

Very cool but absolutely, without a doubt, not going to be on the iPad 3. Apple purchases small companies like this if they want to use a revolutionary aspect created by such.

Sancho90 says:

As much as Apple has a tendency to grab onto rarely used, but highly innovative technology... I don't see them implementing this within the iPad 3/HD.
Maybe later when such immersion is more desired, but not right now. I personally would see it as more of a gimmick, but that's me.

dloveprod says:

The And touch would fit this, line would probably start the day before at majority of stores if they included this.

Justin says:

I don't think this rumor will pan out. However, I'm not gonna lie, if it does, iPad 3 will be a DAY ONE purchase for me. I will preorder it with the force of a thousand hurricanes.

sting7k says:

I think we are getting a little crazy here.

John says:

One more thing........... Electrostatic Touch Screen! I would lose it! I'll get in line TODAY!

mlawrnce says:

Geez, take a breath, we'll know (not guess/speculate) in a few hours

jasondeno says:

Can we cease all of the useless speculation for about two hours? All will be answered shortly.

Brad says:

Wow, if it does have electrostatic touch, this would be the icing on the cake!

Dark_Blu says:

I can't see this being useful for anything. Seriously doubt it as a feature.

RJ says:

ok sounds like someone has taken the brown acid. calm down, it will NOT kill you. turn on some beatles or grateful dead and listen to the music play.
seriously, maybe in about 5 to 10 years, I just hope siri on iPad 2, now if the iPad3/HD is a quadcore processor, it will be a day one purchase for me and I will hold off on my purchase of a new macbook pro or air

Simon Sage says:

I could see this kind of thing improving typing quality dramatically.

JohnPA2006 says:

Even though this is cool looking, its a well presented fake.
People come up with some pretty fantastic looking hoaxes for what this
Apple device is going to be.
We'll all know by 1pm EST today.

gregg37 says:

Sounds cool... but also like gimmicky garbage you'd turn off after a week... like siri.

Luis says:

Just as I expected...