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Apple patents tactile suction-cup buttons for multitouch screens

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday published an interesting Apple patent describing a system in which button-like structures can be attached to a multitouch display in order to create a tactile, clickable form of input.

Button
Source: USPTO


Apple's U.S. Patent No. 8,462,133 for "Clickable and tactile buttons for a touch surface" describes a method in which removable, deformable buttons are mounted to a touch-sensitive surface in order to give users a physical form of feedback.

In one embodiment, the "attachment structure," as Apple calls it, is fitted to a touchscreen like that of an iPhone or iPad, using suction to create a tactile button overlaid atop the display. This button can be made to deform when pressure is applied, thus giving the user positive feedback that the actuator was depressed.

Key to the patent is the buckling motion provided by the shape of the button. Some embodiments call for a dome shape which, when depressed, will buckle and when released will "unbuckle," or snap back to its original form. The action provides a tactile "click" sensation for a user, something touchscreens lack.

Button


Because the button is made of rubber, or similar transparent material, the user can see through to the display beneath. In other implementations, the material is opaque and blocks the portion of screen it covers.

As for touch registering, the patent notes that a puck made out of metal or doped rubber may be disposed within the button dome, which will bridge capacitive elements in a touchscreen display when it comes in contact with the screen's surface. The size of the puck can be varied depending on usage.

Button
Illustration of dielectric puck.


Additionally, more than one button can be attached to a screen's surface. For example, a joystick arrangement is described in the patent language which has a plastic shaft and suitable contact points setup as directional arrows.

Button
Joystick implementation.


Finally, single or multiple buttons can be used as finger rests which protect from inadvertent touches, allowing only assertive actions to be registered.

Apple's button apparatus patent was first filed for in 2008 and credits Stephen Brian Lynch, John Benjamin Filson and Fletcher R. Rothkopf as its inventors.
post #2 of 13
Excellent! We're back to mechanical "buttons".
post #3 of 13
Apple patents something that's on the market? I personally believe if there's anything about the US patent system that needs reform it's that fact that you can apply for patent and five years later receive said patent, without ever releasing a product that includes said patent. That IMO just isn't right. Just like a trademark, I think after applying for a patent you should be given a period of time to demonstrate the patent in use. And if you do not, your application should automatically be cancelled. Five years is too long a period.
Edited by Ireland - 6/11/13 at 3:58am
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #4 of 13

The patent was filed 5 years ago.  That detail should have been in the article, but alas... 

 

Such is the speed of getting a patent.
 

Doodle Dice iPhone puzzle game: A fun, free physics-laden collection of dice games.  Greatest app made yet?  Perhaps young man... Perhaps.
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Doodle Dice iPhone puzzle game: A fun, free physics-laden collection of dice games.  Greatest app made yet?  Perhaps young man... Perhaps.
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post #5 of 13

I predict they'll have a cover that shows part of the screen with certain functions

post #6 of 13
I made a keyboard on this principle 18 months ago for use on my iPad and USE it sometimes, frankly its a backwoods step but it was a good academic exercise
post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Apple patents something that's on the market? I personally believe if there's anything about the US patent system that needs reform it's that fact that you can apply for patent and five years later receive said patent, without ever releasing a product that includes said patent. That IMO just isn't right. Just like a trademark, I think after applying for a patent you should be given a period of time to demonstrate the patent in use. And if you do not, your application should automatically be cancelled. Five years is too long a period.

What if you are building something that will take more than 5 years to bring to market? What if Apple's idea is to use this invention to augment a planned consol system that is still in development?

Under your system, a company can just watch Apple's patent filings, copy the proposed invention, and hope Apke doesn't come to market by some completely arbitrary deadline. Your idea essentially eliminate patents.


Your concern seems to be these products are on the market. We're they even thought of before Apple's patent filing? The real problem is taking 5 years to approve a patent, not taking 5 years to develop a product.
post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by dugbug View Post

The patent was filed 5 years ago.  That detail should have been in the article, but alas... 

Such is the speed of getting a patent.

 

It was:
Quote:
Apple's button apparatus patent was first filed for in 2008 and credits Stephen Brian Lynch, John Benjamin Filson and Fletcher R. Rothkopf as its inventors.

It could have been more prominently featured.
post #9 of 13

Ah my bad wovel
 

Doodle Dice iPhone puzzle game: A fun, free physics-laden collection of dice games.  Greatest app made yet?  Perhaps young man... Perhaps.
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Doodle Dice iPhone puzzle game: A fun, free physics-laden collection of dice games.  Greatest app made yet?  Perhaps young man... Perhaps.
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post #10 of 13
iBubblewrap? Probably the least interesting Apple Patent I've seen in a while, and most likely designed to cover their butts to prevent unlicensed accessories.
post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wovel View Post

What if you are building something that will take more than 5 years to bring to market? What if Apple's idea is to use this invention to augment a planned consol system that is still in development?

Under your system, a company can just watch Apple's patent filings, copy the proposed invention, and hope Apke doesn't come to market by some completely arbitrary deadline. Your idea essentially eliminate patents.


Your concern seems to be these products are on the market. We're they even thought of before Apple's patent filing? The real problem is taking 5 years to approve a patent, not taking 5 years to develop a product.

I never proposed anything specific. Your reply was quite specific. I'm not an idiot.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #12 of 13
Actually, this isn't of much importance, even though, as it was pointed out in the article, that this was applied for five years ago, well before any third party products like it became available.

But, as I just said, this isn't of much importance. If anyone here saw the presentation, they would have noticed the one liner that Federici threw out when the screen for the new APIs was shown.

APIs for third party controllers. Now, if that means what I think it does, it's the biggest step towards iOS devices acting like a console since the first game came out for them. If by third party controllers, Apple means Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony type controllers, then this is a major step. The iPad 3, upon which I'm writing this, has been called by several major developers as being almost as powerful as the current generation of consoles, and the newer 4, at least as powerful. We can be sure that the 5 will be significantly more powerful yet, even if it won't be close to the new consoles coming out from Microsoft and Sony, though considerably more so than the Wii U.

This is something that deserves an article for itself. So far though, no site I'm reading seems to have picked up on it, including ArsTechnica, which covers Apple extensively, was at the conference, and which has numerous articles on iOS 7 up there.
post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

But, as I just said, this isn't of much importance. If anyone here saw the presentation, they would have noticed the one liner that Federici threw out when the screen for the new APIs was shown.



Adam Federici

Pulling your leg here Melgross[/quote]
"See her this weekend. You hit it off, come Turkey Day, maybe you can stuff her."
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"See her this weekend. You hit it off, come Turkey Day, maybe you can stuff her."
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