The road to true tactile feedback systems in touchscreen smartphones has been littered with half-baked, so-called “haptic” feedback solutions that do little more than vibrate the entire handset with every touchscreen input. Granted, the technology is still in its infancy, but there are some that would argue that implementing anything less than true tactile feedback is an insult to mobile enthusiasts and amounts to deception of the masses.
True Haptic feedback is the holy-grail of touchscreen feedback systems. The problem with touchscreen tech is that the glass or plastic display doesn’t convey the same button-press feedback that make physical keys so attractive to many. So, researchers are toiling away in R&D labs to create a feedback system that gives the user key-press feedback by means of vibrations or raised bumps. The ultimate goal is to localize and isolate the feedback sensation to the area under the finger.
Both Apple and Nokia are working on technology that would do just that. Both companies are working on different technologies to acheive true localized haptic feedback, and it’s possible that a working solution could hit market within a year or two.
In fact, a leaked product roadmap from Nokia, uncovered by Engadget Mobile, hints at the arrival of a cellphone, codenamed “Eitri,” sporting true haptic feedback technology in the first half of 2009. Handset specifications detail a device with a 3.5-inch pressure-sensitive touchscreen capable of haptic feedback and gesture support.
This is what we know:
- Landscape candybar design with QWERTY keyboard
- 3.5-inch 640×350 display
- Minimum 8GB ROM
- Pressure sensitive touch UI with tactile feedback and gestures
- Charging via USB
- 5MP AF camera with dual LED flash
- Integrated compass and accelerometer
- Proximity sensor
- FM transmitter
The rest of the “Eitri” spec-sheet is respectable enough to carry the handset to success, but the mention of “tactile feedback” really grabs our attention. Sure, a 3.5-inch monster display boasting a 640×350 pixel count is impressive, as is the 5 megapixel camera and 8GB of ROM, but we’ve seen it all before. True-blue haptic feedback, on the other hand, still eludes us.
Could the Eitri be the first Nokia handset to bring Nokia’s Haptikos technology to market? Are we on the verge of seeing the debut of true haptic feedback? Time will tell…