The trackpad has traditionally employed a click button, which responds to the user’s touch and offers feedback.
The click button is the reason why pressing down on a MacBook’s trackpad right now produces that distinctive “click” sound. That might not be the case in the future, given that Apple has now been awarded a new patent called “Touch pad with force sensors and actuator feedback.” In the patent, Apple describes that instead of using a click button, the trackpad would use sensors which will detect how hard the user has tapped, and will offer feedback accordingly.
Sensors would be placed at all four corners of the trackpad, which will take into account the pressure of the user’s touch. Sensors may also be able to provide tactile feedback, so users will be able to feel the response of the trackpad without it actually having to move down as it currently does whenever the user clicks. To mimic the sound of a click, so that users are absolutely sure about the action and the expected output on the display, audible vibrations can be employed.
Not only will this new trackpad save up space inside, allowing for MacBooks to be even thinner, they would also let users control sensitivity of the sensor and tactile feedback based on whether the user has a lighter or heavier touch. Apple filed for this patent back in 2009, and even though it has been awarded, it remains to be seen when the company brings this technology over to its notebooks.