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Haptic 5

bringing eyes-free texting back to the modern world
  [vote for,

12-key cellphones (ie, flip phones) are rapidly fading into antiquity. They are being slowly phased out of production and quickly out of the public eye in favor of QWERTY and touchscreen devices. While I'm far more in favor of touchscreen over 12-key, I do miss the ability to pound out a text message in my pocket or under my desk by feel. See, most 12-key phones have a raised bump on the #5, to aid the visually impaired in finding the other, adjacent, keys. I used this feature to be really sneaky at work and at gatherings with relatives... heh heh heh. While some physical QWERTY keypads retained this infinitely useful feature, sadly, this kind of tactile feedback isn't available with touchscreen phones, even those with simulated 12-key dial pads. What I would like is the option to enable haptic feedback on just the central key on virtual 12-key keypads, and the "f" and "j" keys on virtual QWERTYs, to simulate the raised bumps on physical keypads. That is all.

With creative application of proximity sensor technology (such as that used to lock the touchscreen when it nears your face while on a call, and automatically light up the screen when you pull it away from your face) it should be possible to deliver a subtle vibration when your finger hovers over a certain part of the keyboard. So you wave your thumb or forefinger over the keyboard until the phone vibes gently, then you have your bearing and know where the other keys are.

(for those who don't know what haptic feedback is, I've provided a link to a Wikipedia article)

21 Quest, Aug 15 2010

What is Haptic Feedback? http://en.wikipedia...iki/Haptic_feedback
[21 Quest, Aug 15 2010]

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       Hey yeah, really should add haptic to the f and j for the virtual QWERTY.
21 Quest, Aug 15 2010

       Good link, Bigs. I'd actually read a story about that problem in the USA Today a few months ago. While I doubt Apple would allow any such modification of the iPhones' software, this should actually be an incredibly simple app to develop for devices running the Android OS. There are already apps that replace the entire virtual keyboard with an alternate layout and different features for those with physical keyboards, as well as apps that change the vibration and volume settings, so a keyboard app that activates the haptic feedback on a specific key, or pair of keys, should be very doable.

       Note: I've added a little more how-to detail to the post.
21 Quest, Aug 15 2010

       If you are skilful enough to text without looking, I wonder if you could cope with a morse code to text converter. Morse code could also be vibrated out so you could read text without looking as well.
Ling, Aug 15 2010

       That could work very well, actually. Just a single virtual button on the screen that you tap repeatedly... nice.
21 Quest, Aug 15 2010

       Well, you already know S & M, I suspect. Most of the old phones used to spell out SMS in morse code whenever a text was received.
Ling, Aug 15 2010

       That would aid greatly in eyesfree receiving. Have the phone vibrate in Morse code to spell out the message received. Replay accomplished by holding two side keys simultaneously.
21 Quest, Aug 15 2010

       Nice [+]. How about vibration activated by touching F or J while in QWERTY, to simulate the "home row" of keys?
DrWorm, Aug 15 2010


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