Apple’s Taptic Engine – The single coolest Apple Watch Feature

The Apple Watch might be the next iPod. It might be a flop. But the tactile framework it uses to communicate with you without text or sound, what Apple calls “Digital Touch” using its “Taptic Engine,” is here to stay in one form or another. It’s a genuinely important new language that is certainly not unique to Apple, but whose adoption by Apple signals its entrance into consumer technology for real.

t’s a rectangular casing that contains a linear actuator. That’s a very vague and broad term that describes a device that turns energy into linear motion—as opposed to circular motion, like the kind in most motors. This tiny mechanism takes electricity from the battery and turns it into motion, which you feel as a tapping on your wrist. “You can get someone’s attention with a gentle tap,” says Apple. “Or even send something as personal as your heartbeat.”

The Apple Taptic Engine

For the majority of computing history, technology has communicated with us in two ways: Sight and sound. Think of haptic—er, Taptic—feedback as the third way. Sure, you touch a screen and dial a phone. But that interaction only went one way—from the human to the device. A machine sending touch back through your fingers? That’s newer, though it goes back far further than your phone vibrating in your pocket.

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