The filing would require the use of two haptic modules, able to vibrate vertically and horizontally respectively, according to documents discovered by AppleInsider. These would be linked by a central control processor.
As needed, the modules would switch roles based on how a person is holding a device. In fact the patent specifically refers to use in portable and wearable devices, suggesting Apple could build the technology into a future iPhone or Apple Watch.
Both the Watch and the iPhone 6s use versions of Apple’s “Taptic Engine,” intended to provide noticeably different vibrations depending on context. The Apple Watch, for instance, will use a soft “tap” for notifications in order to avoid being obnoxious.
Neither device, however, can vibrate solely in one axis or another, much less change this based on orientation.
The patent was originally submitted in February 2014, and is credited to Douglas Weber, who was once a design manager with Apple’s iPhone and Watch teams but left the company in November that year to build specialized coffee machines.