Apple wants to add haptic feedback to mattresses

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A recent patent from Apple has shown off new sleep-based technology that uses haptic feedback in mattresses.

First filed in September 2020, the patent was published on 25 March 2021.

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The patent - entitled Pneumatic Haptic Device Having Actuation Cells for Producing a Haptic Output over a Bed Mattress - could help users wake up, relax, or to receive notifications.

If implemented, this would be a step up from Apple's current sleep-related technology. The Apple Watch currently supports sleep tracking, for example.

How will mattress feedback work?

The in-bed haptic feedback device will use actuation cells inflated or deflated with pressurised air. These will then be placed on top of the mattress and underneath the user. The patent also notes the device will be "sufficiently thin and/or flexible" as to not cause the user discomfort.

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This will then connect to a control system that includes "one or more input devices" including light, audio, contact and biometric sensors. Different haptic outputs could be triggered depending on "whether a user is asleep or awake, present or not present, snoring or not snoring" or even the sleeping position of the user.

The haptic device could also connect to another electronic device (such as an iPhone) to output notifications or alerts for incoming calls or messages.

You can see the full patent here.

Image of the in-bed haptic device
Image of the in-bed haptic device (Apple)
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What is haptic feedback?

Haptic feedback uses touch feedback to communicate with users, going beyond a traditional 'rumble' feedback.

The feature is used by mobile devices alongside video game console controllers. The PlayStation 5's DualSense controller implemented haptic feedback that allows players to 'feel' the environment.

It is worth noting that Apple - much like Sony - files lots of patents. Many of these never see use in commercial products, and this patent could be the same.

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