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Apple's invention for touch-sensitive buttons could prevent accidental inputs

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Apple is famous for its pioneering touchscreen devices, but a new patent shows the company has also dabbled behind the scenes in touch-sensitive buttons that would be able to distinguish between accidental activation and an actual finger press.




The concept comes from a patent continuation published this week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and discovered by AppleInsider. Entitled "Configurable Buttons for Electronic Devices," Apple's invention describes a physical button with an associated touch sensor that could detect when a user's finger is touching it.

By doing this, the button could tell when it is being activated by a finger, and not by brushing up against or into an inanimate object. In this method, Apple's invention would prevent accidental button presses on a portable device.




Such functionality could be particularly beneficial with wearable electronics, such as the company's rumored "iWatch," as highly portable devices can be susceptible to accidental contact when being worn.

The patent itself includes illustrations for what appears to be an unused design for the wearable clip-on iPod shuffle. In one example the buttons on the device are temporarily disabled when the clip on the rear of the device is being squeezed, allowing a user to place the device on their clothing without activating the buttons on the front.




The invention notes that the need to avoid "unintentional operation" of buttons can apply to all portable electronics, including smartphones, tablets, media players, and notebooks. Examples given by Apple include power, sleep, menu, volume, and multipurpose buttons.

Apple already has a touch-sensitive button of sorts on the iPhone 5s, as the smartphone's home button includes the Touch ID fingerprint scanner. Using Touch ID, a user can securely unlock their iPhone after the handset identifies their fingerprint from an actual finger placed atop the button.

But the patent continuation revealed by the USPTO this week suggests that more basic touch sensing capabilities could be used on other buttons in future portable devices from Apple. U.S. Patent No. 8,717,199 is credited to inventors John Benjamin Filson, Stephen Brian Lynch, Emery Sanford, and Pinida Jan Moolsintong.
post #2 of 13
Glad to see more hardware patents - software patents have proven to be valueless. Not that I want to see Apple use patents in war, but because I want Apple to be able to push back fast copies. Copy, just don't stand on their coat-tails for gods sake.
post #3 of 13
So they invented capacitive buttons?
post #4 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by itpromike View Post

So they invented capacitive buttons?

 

On a mobile device.

post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frood View Post

On a mobile device.

Ahhh I see so the capacitive buttons currently on phones that exhibit the same benefits don't count as capacitive buttons on a mobile device. Got it
post #6 of 13
How long until Sammy steals this.
post #7 of 13
They are not capacitive buttons, they are mechanical but can tell if they were pressed with a finger or the inside of your pocket.
post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by jungmark View Post

How long until Sammy steals this.

3...2...1....

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply
post #9 of 13
This must be why they never blew up the Enterprise-D by cleaning the LCARS terminals.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply
post #10 of 13
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post
This must be why they never blew up the Enterprise-D by cleaning the LCARS terminals.

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply

Originally Posted by helia

I can break your arm if I apply enough force, but in normal handshaking this won't happen ever.
Reply
post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

 

 

 

Blah silly Windows terminal. They should just ask themselves, what would Batman do?

 

Edit: pesky forum software doesn't seem to like quotes with mixed content

post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post



LOL. What animated gifs are made for.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply
post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by itpromike View Post


Ahhh I see so the capacitive buttons currently on phones that exhibit the same benefits don't count as capacitive buttons on a mobile device. Got it

 

They didn't "get it".

 

Like the iPod clamp disabling buttons (which is awesome), they are coupling capacitive touch with a physical button. That means when you bump a button accidentally -- there is no electrical conduction like you have on your finger and it will not activate. The translate this; no more butt dials.

 

The other thing they need is to sense pressure, and area of the pressure to distinguish between a cheek and a finger -- and in some regards, the screen on the iPhone has this, so my cheek doesn't activate "mute" by holding it against my head -- unfortunately, my Android phone has nothing like this, and I can't actually hold the phone to my head and listen at the same time. Some might call that a design flaw.

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