Sure, touchscreen phones look great, but when it comes to typing on the touchscreen most of the phones are lacking. Without having the feedback that a keypad provides, users often have to type slowly and frequently make errors on devices such as the iPhone.
Researchers at the University of Glasgow are trying to solve those problems by using actuators (the things that make your phone vibrate when a call comes in) to replicate the feel of a keypad.
Using existing haptic feedback software, the scientists are trying to squeeze more out of the actuators already present in cell phones. Their modifications provide a single pulse for the feeling of a button being clicked, a longer buzz to provide a “rough” feeling when the user has moved to a different key, and a buzz that ramps up and down when sliding a finger across a button to give that button a rounded feel.
The researchers found that users’ typing speed and accuracy were much closer to a standard keypad when using their haptic feedback software. The team will present their findings at the Computer Human Interaction conference in Italy next month, and hopefully we’ll see cell phone manufacturers picking up this software to make their touchscreen phones that much more usable. [via New Scientist]