At the Symbian Smartphone Show in London this morning, Nokia showed a video depicting a model with a screen larger than the one on its current N95, and without its pivoting thumb controls. This model was running applications on the Symbian S60 platform using a new touch-screen interface that was similar to Apple's iPhone in one respect, and dissimilar to it in another: It provides tactile feedback.
Nokia confirmed the development in a press release issued later in the day. "S60 touch user interface comes with support for tactile feedback," the company stated, "which means that there is a physical pulse and feedback when the user taps on the screen. This provides better awareness of the device's response improving the user experience."
Last July, Nokia licensed the VibeTonz tactile feedback technology from Immersion Technology. In recent months, that company has been actively campaigning for developers' interest, including the release of a developers' SDK for mobile phones. But perhaps not until now has there been any visual evidence that developers' work would culminate in a physical product on a viable platform.
Today's video contained no verbal information of any use, and may easily have been borrowed by an ad for pantyhose, life insurance, or pain reliever. It also lacked a timeframe for product development milestones.
But in its literature today, Nokia says tactile feedback could dramatically improve the way users remember how to perform key functions, as well as how the application responds to user interaction. Conceivably, "Cancel" could feel different than any other touch on the screen; and a directive that makes something go could respond with a water-like ripple. It could also reduce an application's dependence upon sound or graphics to make its point or get the user's attention.
Symbian S60, Nokia, Touchscreen, Tactile, TRI, Online video, Smart Phone, PDA, YouTube