With descriptions of the upcoming Apple tablet's user interface featuring words like "awesome" and "surprising" it's possible some patents filed by the company have been used in the device.
Plans for a tactile feedback virtual keyboard describe buttons and frames that would pop up when keys are displayed and retract under the surface at other times. This would make typing on an on-screen tablet keyboard feel much more like typing on a standard keyboard.
One approach is to provide tactile feedback mechanisms, such as dots, bars, or other shapes on all or many keys. In another embodiment, an articulating frame may be provided that extends when the surface is being used in a typing mode and retracts when the surface is used in some other mode, e.g., a pointing mode.
The patent was filed in August by Wayne Westerman, the founder of FingerWorks. Apple acquired FingerWorks in 2005 and has since incorporated its multi-touch technology into products such as the iPhone.In another embodiment, a rigid, non-articulating frame may be provided beneath the surface. A user will then feel higher resistance when pressing away from the key centers, but will feel a softer resistance at the key center.
Placing your hands in a position for typing could be enough for the software to sense where your fingers are, display the keyboard, and push up the key edges in the appropriate location on the screen.