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Apple reimagines the mouse with force sensors, haptic feedback

post #1 of 64
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An Apple patent filing uncovered on Thursday describes an advanced mouse that employs sensors to measure the level and location of force exerted on its main button, as well as haptics systems for providing feedback.


Source: USPTO


As published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple's application for a "Force Sensing Mouse" details a mouse peripheral that not only varies its output based on how hard a user presses, but returns confirmation feedback in the way of haptic vibrations.

The invention is largely built around a strain gauge operatively coupled to a cantilever arm or beam. Employing the familiar Apple mouse design, with a single large top portion acting as a button or buttons, the accessory is able to easily and accurately transfer force through the arm, onto the sensor.

For example, when a user presses down on the mouse, the cantilever beam may bend, flex or twist, thus deforming the strain gauge that in turn outputs a certain voltage to be translated into an input signal. By processing voltage output, the mouse can estimate the amount of force being applied by the user and generate a control signal accordingly.




As for haptic feedback, an electromagnet is disposed in the mouse's body such that it hits the top button portion when activated. Alternatively, embedded vibration motors or other haptic systems are placed in one or more positions so as to provide adequate levels of feedback.

In practice, a user moves a UI cursor over an icon an exerts a first force (button press) to select the asset, which triggers a preset feedback force. A second, harder level of pressure induces the execution of a command, like opening an app or folder, while the mouse responds in kind with a more intense vibration. In this way, the user is able to navigate, select and activate graphical assets with one button press, getting feedback along the way.




Apple notes the pivot-style orientation of its mouse design might cause distortion in readings as less force is transferred through to the cantilever beam when a user presses down farther away from the pivot point, while more force is transferred when closer to the mouse's mechanical elements. To resolve this issue, and pinpoint finger location, the invention proposes deploying a touch sensor like the one found in Apple's Magic Mouse.

Alternatively, different types of sensors -- piezoelectric force sensors, force transducers, pressure sensor arrays, torque sensors and others -- can be used instead of the cantilever beam/strain gauge setup. The use of multiple sensors or location tracking via multitouch provides even more flexibility and introduces what are perhaps the patent's most interesting embodiments.

For example, with location tracking activated, the mouse's top portion can correspond to different locations on an operating system's UI.

In another embodiment, a button press is divided into "left force," "right force" and "middle force" depending on where the user presses or where their fingers are when force a first force is exerted. Apple offers the example of a flight simulator that maps right, left or middle forces to a plane's directional controls (pitch, yaw and roll), while applied force corresponds to speed or amplitude of movement.


Illustration of force sensing mouse with multiple cantilever arms (405).


It is unknown if Apple is working on a new mouse device, though the existing Magic Mouse is nearly five years old. Apple's peripheral releases are difficult to predict, though the Magic Mouse replaced the preceding Mighty Mouse after the old multi-button version spent four years on the market.

Apple's force sensing mouse patent application was first filed in 2013 and credits James E. Wright and Keith J. Hendren as its inventors.
post #2 of 64
bring it to all equipment - trackpads, iPads, iPhone etc...
post #3 of 64
This good news on many levels and hopefully shows OS X isn't going away nor is the mouse in the near future. I have nothing against the touch interface as an optional addition for some uses (thinking Microsoft here, not iPad) but for most work the mouse is currently what I find the fastest and most productive mechanism for my lines of work.

On a side note (aimed at Google, can you put in a word for me Gatorguy?) ... but will this work with Google maps? I find it impossible to use these days with my Magic Mouse it zooms in and out at the slightest touch (Dramamine is required to use it). It used to work fine a few versions back. Of course this is due to Google's programming not the mouse. Kind of strange for Google to do that considering they wanted to retain users in OS X now I have to use Maps mostly like it or not. I have several mice, including a Logitech advanced multi button gizmo I use for certain 3D apps but it is horrible for most work compared to Apple's MM and I certainly can't be bothered to swap mice to look up directions!
Edited by digitalclips - 8/14/14 at 4:50am
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post #4 of 64
guess the rumored new trackpad on the upcoming retina mba also points to an imminent refresh of peripherals. Apple, please use bluetooth LE this time too
post #5 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

This good news on many levels and hopefully shows OS X isn't going away nor is the mouse in the near future. I have nothing against the touch interface as an optional addition for some uses (thinking Microsoft here, not iPad) but for most work the mouse is currently what I find the fastest and most productive mechanism for my lines of work.

On a side note (aimed at Google, can you put in a word for me Gatorguy?) ... but will this work with Google maps? I find it impossible to use these days with my Magic Mouse it zooms in and out at the slightest touch (Dramamine is required to use it). It used to work fine a few versions back. Of course this is due to Google's programming not the mouse. Kind of strange for Google to do that considering they wanted to retain users in OS X now I have to use Maps mostly like it or not. I have several mice, including a Logitech advanced multi button gizmo I use for certain 3D apps but it is horrible for most work compared to Apple's MM and I certainly can't be bothered to swap mice to look up directions!

Use Apple Maps. Problem solved.
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post #6 of 64
Why is Apple only patenting mice? Why the discrimination against rats?

Diversity, Apple, diversity!
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post #7 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post

Use Apple Maps. Problem solved.

I think I said I did. But I like both. Street view and fly mode are great fun and very useful to me, I wish Apple would implement similar features then i'd be very happy. But ... my point was it was weird for Google to intentionally screw up Google Maps for most OS X users at a time when Maps is there ... just weird!
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post #8 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post

Why is Apple only patenting mice? Why the discrimination against rats?

Diversity, Apple, diversity!

And a white mouse at that. lol.gif
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post #9 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post

Why is Apple only patenting mice? Why the discrimination against rats?

Diversity, Apple, diversity!

Another unfortunate detail to emerge this week is that 100% of Apple mice are white.

Tim is looking to address the situation promptly...
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post #10 of 64
I wonder what the midi-chlorian count in these new mice will be...
post #11 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by GTR View Post


Another unfortunate detail to emerge this week is that 100% of Apple mice are white.

Tim is looking to address the situation promptly...

Slow news day... :rolleyes: 

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post #12 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by IQatEdo View Post

Slow news day... 1rolleyes.gif  

It's early yet.
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post #13 of 64
I had an old Logitech mouse that offered haptic feedback with drivers for Windows that created a "texture" whenever you rolled the pointer over some onscreen object like into/out of a button or window. There was an API to allow games and other apps to incorporate haptic feedback, but I recall only one game title using it before Logitech abandoned it altogether. But Apple is so vertically integrated, they could implement haptic feedback into the OS across all their products with touchscreens, touch pads, and mouses. If they wanted to.

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post #14 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post


It's early yet.

Lol... bedtime here... good morning, afternoon, evening and goodnight all... take care. :)

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post #15 of 64

meh...

Wake me up when someone "reimagines" imagination...

post #16 of 64

This is another example of "No detail is too small" for Apple.

At first I found the Magic Mouse a bit akward to handle, when compared to the older Mighty Mouse but now can not imagine ever going back. 

 

The one added functionality I would like to see in a mouse, is some form of rotation gesture, something trackpads take for granted.  

post #17 of 64
Neither Adobe, nor Google have improved their software or services to accommodate for the Magic Mouse. Using Photoshop, Illustrator or Google Maps with a Magic Mouse is insane. Random jumps, zooming in and out wildly, objects flying offscreen...

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post #18 of 64
Personally after using a wireless Apple trackpad for a few years, I would be extremely unlikely to go back to using a mouse.
post #19 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by malax View Post

Personally after using a wireless Apple trackpad for a few years, I would be extremely unlikely to go back to using a mouse.

I like the trackpad, but I do like the precision of a mouse.

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post #20 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post

Use Apple Maps. Problem solved.

I think I said I did. But I like both. Street view and fly mode are great fun and very useful to me, I wish Apple would implement similar features then i'd be very happy. But ... my point was it was weird for Google to intentionally screw up Google Maps for most OS X users at a time when Maps is there ... just weird!

I think it's because Google just doesn't care. To them, OS X is just another OS to accommodate. They cater to the lowest common denominator. Apple writes Apple Maps for iOS and OS X only, so they pay attention to little details like the Magic Mouse and the Magic Trackpad.
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post #21 of 64
As someone who has always used a 2-button mouse, I was always curious as to how the current mouse as well as the trackpad are used to access what is the "right-click" option menu.
post #22 of 64
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post
This good news on many levels and hopefully shows OS X isn't going away nor is the mouse in the near future.

 

Nope. This is one of those patents they get to prevent their competitors from being able to do it.

 

Multitouch desktops are inevitable. The mouse is living on borrowed time.

post #23 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

The mouse is living on borrowed time.

 

You're going to corner the market on finger sharpeners, eh?  :lol: 

post #24 of 64
Originally Posted by PScooter63 View Post
You're going to corner the market on finger sharpeners, eh?  :lol: 

 

Hardly need to sharpen your fingers when you have a 27” and 42” screen.

post #25 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by malax View Post

Personally after using a wireless Apple trackpad for a few years, I would be extremely unlikely to go back to using a mouse.

Same here! :)

post #26 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trubador View Post

As someone who has always used a 2-button mouse, I was always curious as to how the current mouse as well as the trackpad are used to access what is the "right-click" option menu.


As for the magic mouse, you simply turn on "secondary click" in system preferences mouse settings.  The magic mouse fully supports left and right clicks as well as a slew of other gestures that can be activated by using Andreas Hegenberg's excellent little tool, BetterTouchTool.

 

On the trackpad, you turn on "secondary click" in system preferences trackpad which activates a two finger click or tap gesture for right mouse click functionality.

post #27 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Neither Adobe, nor Google have improved their software or services to accommodate for the Magic Mouse. Using Photoshop, Illustrator or Google Maps with a Magic Mouse is insane. Random jumps, zooming in and out wildly, objects flying offscreen...

Hell, I've gotten that with a microsoft mouse on my last two macs.  A wired mouse on the old mac pro and a bluetooth mouse on the new iMac.  

 

And I don't use Apple mice because they're terrible.  From the hockey puck forward, it just seems to be a blind spot for them for some reason.

post #28 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Benjamin Frost View Post

Why is Apple only patenting mice? Why the discrimination against rats?
 

 

Don't worry, I've seen plenty pictures of Tim Cook hobnobbing with President Obama and various members of congress.  ;-)

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post #29 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by razorpit View Post
 

 

Don't worry, I've seen plenty pictures of Tim Cook hobnobbing with President Obama and various members of congress.  ;-)

 

The all new, all exciting Apple Rat™... it's unsqueakably different!

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post #30 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Nope. This is one of those patents they get to prevent their competitors from being able to do it.

Multitouch desktops are inevitable. The mouse is living on borrowed time.

God help my back muscles if I have to work all day on touch screens the size I use for video and photography, and three of them!
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post #31 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


God help my back muscles if I have to work all day on touch screens the size I use for video and photography, and three of them!

 

Only if you buy a Surface.

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post #32 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trubador View Post

As someone who has always used a 2-button mouse, I was always curious as to how the current mouse as well as the trackpad are used to access what is the "right-click" option menu.

 

Keep using your 2-button mouse; no need to be curious. It might kill you.

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post #33 of 64

A pressure sensitive mouse would be good for graphics applications and perhaps some games.

post #34 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

 

Nope. This is one of those patents they get to prevent their competitors from being able to do it.

 

Multitouch desktops are inevitable. The mouse is living on borrowed time.

Yeah, because people are just itching to tap their monitors constantly at work.  Brilliant :rolleyes:

post #35 of 64
Originally Posted by Freshmaker View Post
Yeah, because people are just itching to tap their monitors constantly at work.  Brilliant :rolleyes:

 

Why on Earth can seemingly no one conceive of anything but a vertical monitor? Laziness or stupidity?

post #36 of 64

A more horizontal one would be an osteopath's boom with the amount of neck pain it'd cause.

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post #37 of 64
Not keen on having a bar stick out the back of a mouse, but I am certainly ready for a replacement to Apple's current mouse which I find extremely frustrating with its propensity for scrolling massively with barely a touch.
post #38 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

Why on Earth can seemingly no one conceive of anything but a vertical monitor? Laziness or stupidity?

 

the opposite, actually. in no way would looking downward at a horizontal monitor all day be comfortable at all. a vertical monitor meets the plane of vision for eyeballs pointed at it perpendicularly from a normal sitting position.

 

but feel free to launch your own company selling horizontally pictured monitors....see how it goes!

post #39 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post
 

A more horizontal one would be an osteopath's boom with the amount of neck pain it'd cause.

 

 

TS has a point. When we read a book, we peer down more than we do with a computer screen, and we've been reading for hundreds of years longer than using computers.

 

An iPad is the most natural screen position for a computer so far. 

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post #40 of 64
Quote:
Originally Posted by NolaMacGuy View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

Why on Earth can seemingly no one conceive of anything but a vertical monitor? Laziness or stupidity?

 

the opposite, actually. in no way would looking downward at a horizontal monitor all day be comfortable at all. a vertical monitor meets the plane of vision for eyeballs pointed at it perpendicularly from a normal sitting position.

 

but feel free to launch your own company selling horizontally pictured monitors....see how it goes!

 

Why does it have to be horizontal? The angle that you hold an iPad in portrait would be good for a lot of things. The ideal touchscreen as big as 27" would surely be very adjustable; it would swivel from vertical to horizontal and any angle in between.

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