Tapping With Apple Watch’s Haptic Feedback

By Marc Saltzman

You can tap Apple Watch’s screen, but guess what? It can tap you too. As with video game controllers that vibrate (when your soldier gets shot) or some smartphones and tablets (that slight buzz when you tap a letter on the virtual keyboard), Apple Watch employs haptic technology to apply light force to your skin about relevant information.

Apple calls it Taptic Engine, a linear actuator inside the watch that produces discreet haptic feedback.

Consider this slight vibration a third sense (touch), along with sight and sound, to give you information. The physical sensation of a tap tells you something, such as an important meeting is about to start (without even having to look down at your wrist). It can be a silent alarm clock to wake you up in the morning instead of bothering your significant other. Or feeling your loved one’s heartbeat even though he or she may be miles way.

What’s more, Apple Watch can tap different patterns based on who’s reaching out to you (such as two taps for your spouse and three taps for your boss) or perhaps the haptic pattern tells you what the information is (one tap for the time on the hour, four taps for a calendar appointment, and so on).

Neat, huh?

In the near future, Apple Watch’s haptic feedback may let you know about important health information — perhaps when working in conjunction with sensors. Imagine if someone living with diabetes could feel a haptic tap on the skin to tell him or her it’s time to take insulin based on the body’s blood sugar levels?