Apple Patents IR Tech For Detecting The Force Of Touch Input On iPads And iPhones


Your iPad can detect very fine touches thanks to the use of capacitive touch panels, but it still can’t do a great job of telling how hard you’re pressing (unless you hit the gadget hard enough to trigger the accelerometer). A new patent application by Apple spotted by AppleInsider today details a method for detecting force, using infrared transmitters.

The tech involved is called “frustrated total internal reflection,” (FITR) and powers the interactive touch displays used on CNN and other TV news networks. It uses IR light emitters embedded in the display to bounce light off of the inside surface of the display, and can detect when that surface is being covered more or less by a fingertip. It can translate that surface area info into an inference about how hard a user is pressing to determine force.

Apple’s system has some refinements that make it easier to implement in…

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