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Nokia’s Haptikos Tech Months From Release?

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Previous news that Nokia was working on its own more powerful iPhone-like device, the now announced 5800 XpressMusic, spawned a lot of rumours, inquiries, and wishes among gadget lovers. As soon as Nokia announced it was creating a touch device, more information about Nokia’s patented touchscreen feedback technology, Haptikos was released. Haptikos is Nokia’s solution of creating formable buttons on a touchscreen using a mechanical means of filling a thin membrane with liquid. Speculation of its possible implementation in a production device have really kept the online news world busy. There’s nothing like innovation to spark the imagination.

In late June, Tuvie.com treated the blogosphere to the industrial design genius of Rune Larsen. His Nokia Shape-Shifting concept was an innovative design showcasing Nokia’s Haptikos technology in a full touchscreen device. It was reported on no less than ten websites I frequent on a daily basis in less than 24 hours, having captured the attention of the entire gadget world. Not many hardcore Nokia users haven’t heard about Larsen’s creation.

Oddly, while doing my midday RSS feed check, I came across the exact same concept on YankoDesign.com. What struck me as odd is YankoDesign is usually one of the first to showcase high profile, visually captivating smartphone designs. Yet here we are almost 4 months later, and they seem to be late to the party. But YankoDesign exemplifies the term “fashionably late”, bringing some new details about the design previously uncovered in past reports.

Along with more images of the device, YankoDesign also showed a rudimentary cutaway view of the device. It gave a basic diagram of the display construction, exposing the Haptikos system and its basic workings. This is the first time I’ve seen this image, especially in connection with Larsen’s Shape-Shifting concept.

Rune Larsen’s previous designs have mostly been Nokia branded. This design was a lot like Nokia’s patent listing for Haptikos, and released  too closely to Nokia’s patent filing. It should be assumed he had intimate knowledge of the technology while creating the design, and was possibly commissioned by Nokia to do so.

This is where the wheels get turning. Bear with me, because I’m reaching. I’m either jumping to conclusions, or the Nostradamus of PhoneReport. I think Nokia leaked this information to give a glimpse of what’s next. When around the time the iPhone was released, my good friends at Symbian-Freak.com showed exclusive hands-on images of the Nokia “Tube” prototype. When the HTC T-Mobile G1 was released, images of what looked to be a mass production ready Nokia 5800 XpressMusic, drastically improved from the prototype images, were leaked to the public.

Needless to say, Nokia has been timely and strategic in how it releases information. Nokia usually springs a leak right around the time a worthy competitor has a major announcement or release. So is this in response to another competitor, like the HTC Touch HD/T8920?

Nokia hasn’t been very loose with information, remaining pretty tight lipped unless necessary or strategically prudent. Evidently, Nokia has a few more tricks up its sleeve. Maybe Haptikos isn’t years away, but months instead. We’ll just have to watch the rumor mill to see for ourselves.

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By , Senior International Correspondent on Oct 12th, 2008 GMT +2

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