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Special Report: Apple's touch-sensitive iPod ambitions disclosed in filing

post #1 of 70
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A new patent filing by Apple Computer for a touch sensitive digital media player is the most comprehensive to date, intertwining several previous filings in describing iPod-like devices with touch sensitive bezels, displays and sensors for determining orientation.

The filing, made June 23, 2006 and published for the first time Thursday by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, is appropriately titled: "Electronic Device Having Display and Surrounding Touch Sensitive Bezel for User Interface and Control."

Apple goes to great lengths to describe an electronic device, which can be a digital media player, picture frame, personal digital assistant, cell phone or handheld gaming unit, where areas of the device's housing bezel are designated as the primary user interface controls used for operation.

In one example of such a device, visual guides corresponding to the controls are displayed on the display adjacent the areas of the bezel designated for the controls. Touch data would be generated by the bezel when a user touches specific areas of the device's enclosure, Apple said. The device would then determine which of the controls has been selected based on which designated area is associated with the touch data from the bezel.

Apple explained that the device can have a sensor for determining the orientation of the device, i.e., whether a user is holding it horizontally or vertically. "Based on the orientation, the device can alter the areas designated on the bezel for the controls and can alter the location of the visual guides for the display so that they match the altered areas on the bezel," the company said.

The electronic devices described in the filing "may be multi-functional hand-held devices" with a user interface that requires "no physical buttons, keys, or switches so that the display size of the electronic devices can be substantially increased." Preferably, Apple said, the electronic device would eliminate such physical buttons from a front surface so that additional surface area becomes available for a larger display on the electronic device.



"Ultimately, this strategy allows the electronic device to house a substantially full screen display," the company explained. "As used herein, a full screen display is a display that consumes, or at least dominates, a surface of the electronic device."

Because a limited number of physical buttons are provided, Apple said the display of the hand-held device may also employ a transparent touch screen as the primary input mechanism. Operating under this method, a graphical user interface "may present an on-screen button or user control on the display" and the touch screen display may detect when a user presses the on-screen button.

The hand-held device may also be constructed with only cross-functional physical buttons, where there are no buttons specifically dedicated to individual device functionalities, the iPod maker said. Physical buttons could be limited to only the sides and back surface of the device or to the upper and lower portion of the sides. Alternatively, physical buttons may be located only on the front surface bezel area or on only on the top and bottom surfaces of the device.



Apple took caution in explaining that because the side surfaces of handheld devices are used for grasping, it may be preferred to leave the sides surfaces free from buttons to prevent accidental actions in the event a user inadvertently presses a button while supporting the device. "Although the top and bottom surfaces would not typically be used to hold the device, these surfaces are not ideal locations for buttons that are often actuated because it would be awkward to reach these buttons when operating the device with one hand," the company noted. "Instead, the top surface may be reserved for buttons that have limited action and generic functions that are cross-functional, for example, power and hold switches."

In some cases, Apple said it may be desirable to place buttons in the upper or lower regions of the side surfaces out of the way of the grasping hand of the user. "This may be particularly well suited when the housing of the device is elongated more than the standard width of a user's grasping hand."

By placing a button in the upper region, it tends to be out of the way of the grasping hand and therefore accidental activation is substantially eliminated, Apple said. The button, which could be a dial, wheel or switch, could then be configured to switch the functionality of the multi-functional device.



Depending on the implementation, particular user controls designated for areas of the bezel may not have any visual indications appearing directly on the bezel itself, the company said. "Instead, the designated user controls may be in a logical or predetermined location on the bezel that the user may know or expect."

Taking things a bit further, Apple said the electronic device "may be capable of rotation and may have an orientation sensor for determining the orientation of the device." Based on the sensed orientation, the areas on the bezel designated for the user controls could then be altered or relocated to match the current orientation. Likewise, the company said, the user interface software operating on the device can alter the location of the visual guides to match the current position of the areas on the bezel designated for the user controls.

In another example presented in the filing, one or more sensors can include ambient light sensors for detecting the level of ambient light around the device. Preferably, two ambient light sensors would be employed for redundancy. "Based on the level of ambient light detected, the electronic device can automatically adjust the contrast and/or brightness of the display accordingly," Apple said. "In yet another embodiment, the one or more sensors can include a motion sensor, such as a passive pyroelectric sensor. The motion sensor can be used to detect motion of the electronic device from a stationary state so that the device can 'wake up' or can show previously hidden visual guides on the display in response to being moved."



According to the filing, a rectangular device and can be oriented in either a "portrait" or a "landscape" mode, where it could display a picture or other content in either orientation. In some circumstances, the orientation of what is displayed may not match how the device is currently orientated, but the user may rotate or changes the orientation to correct the issue.

"Depending then on the desired or required orientation for particular content to be shown on the display, the electronic device can alter the designation of the areas for the user controls and the location of visual guides according to the 'portrait' or 'landscape' orientations," Apple explained. "In other words, when the device is preparing to display particular content, the electronic device can determine the particular orientation for that content. Then, when the device switches to show that new content on the display, the electronic device alters the designation of the areas for the user controls and the location of visual guides if the orientation of the newly displayed content is different from that previously displayed. Thus, the user can naturally rotate the device to better view the newly displayed content in its preferred orientation, and the visual guides and designated areas will be already matched to the content's orientation."



The devices processing circuitry could also store information tracking how long touch data has occurred on portions of a touch sensitive bezel and/or how many adjacent, designated areas have had repeated touch data, according to the filing. "Then, after a predefined time limit, the processing circuitry can begin to ignore that consistent touch data in the portion of the bezel when determining what user controls the user is implicating. Furthermore, the processing circuitry can designated new locations for areas of the bezel for user controls that are part of the ignored portion of the bezel."

"For example," Apple said, "the touch sensitive bezel can be used to sense touch gestures, such as touch and drag operations, made by the user. Using the touch gestures, a user can perform a number of user controls, such as move portions of an image that are being displayed, move a curser to drop and drag visual elements displayed scroll up and down through a screen, skip through images in an album or series of images, adjust the setting or value of a user control, or perform similar operations."



In addition, because the touch sensitive bezel can also be configured to detect force, the pressure that a user applies to a designated area of the bezel can also be used to determine the amount, extent, or level of a setting, adjustment, or value of a user control," the company said.

Furthermore, Apple said the touch sensitive bezel can be used to obtain touch data corresponding to multiple user controls simultaneously: "For example, the user controls of the bezel can be configured so that one side of the bezel controls brightness with a touch and drag motion by the user, while the other side of the bezel controls contrast with a touch and drag motion by the user. Thus, using both of these sides of the bezel, the user can simultaneously adjust both the contrast and the brightness of the display using touch and drag motions on the sides of the bezel."



Apple noted that its latest filing shows several different configurations of electronic devices, each of which contain certain features, details, and configurations. "However, one skilled in the art will understand that such features, details, and configurations can be used with the various different embodiments, even if such features, details, and configurations were not specifically mentioned in conjunction with a particular embodiment, and that this disclosure contemplates various combinations of the features, details, and configurations disclosed herein," the company wrote. "More specifically, the foregoing description of preferred and other embodiments is not intended to limit or restrict the scope or applicability of the inventive concepts conceived of by the Applicants."

In exchange for disclosing the various inventive concepts, Apple said it is seeking all patent rights afforded by its claims.

The filing is credited to four Apple employees: Nick King, Duncan Kerr, Paul Herbst and Steven Hotelling.
post #2 of 70
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post #3 of 70
hmmmm. Without a click wheel it will be hard to call this an ipod.
post #4 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by 05elstonc

hmmmm. Without a click wheel it will be hard to call this an ipod.

Like the 1st generation iPods?
post #5 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by 05elstonc

hmmmm. Without a click wheel it will be hard to call this an ipod.

So, in your mind, the first three iPod generations as well as both iPod shuffle generations are not "iPods"?
post #6 of 70
more importantly...did anyone see the illustration for the ultra portable??? (its the one where the hands look waaaay to small for the "ipod")...me likey

furthermore...there have been a lot of arguments that with a wheel on the touch screen, there will be no "feedback" for the user. But the whole design of the click wheel is that it..."clicks"...there is no physical feedback of any sort (like the spinning wheel of the first generation pods). So even with the new concept of the touchless, the UI would be the same because the user responds to the clicks.

just some thoughts...but im kinda new at this.
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post #7 of 70
I'll keep my "iPod with Video" for now. I'm not sure I'll like that interface without the wheel. I'm not closing my mind on it, but I'll wait a while before they get the kinks worked out on it.
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post #8 of 70
Well, I guess this takes care of the whole, "smudges on the screen" concern.

btw- I love how they mispelled "friends" in the UI.
post #9 of 70
That's a big looking iPod there? I mean movie player, sorry I mean remote control for iTV, no actually I mean remote control for everything in your house, no actually I mean game controller for iTV, no actually I meant motion-sensing hand held game machine, no I didn't mean that at all. I meant touch-screen tablet, no I mean photographers handy storing and editing utility tool, or IM client, eMail thingy, no sorry I meant music player. Hell I meant it all
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #10 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland

That's a big looking iPod there? I mean movie player, sorry I mean remote control for iTV, no actally I mean remote control for everything in your house, no actally I mean game controller for iTV, no actually I meant motion-sensing hand held game machine, no I didn't mean that at all. I meant touch-screen tablet, no I mean photographers handy storing and editing utility tool, or IM client, eMail thingy, no sorry I meant music player. Hell I meant it all


Amen, AMEN I say! You speak the truth!
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post #11 of 70
It's fake because they misspelled 'freinds'.
post #12 of 70
Touch sensitive buttons in the bezel is a smart answer to the problem of protecting the screen. I never thought of that.

People don't consider this an ipod because of the lack of wheel? Well this most likely is gonna be a seperate thing and not replace the ipod with video anyways. Besides a click wheel isn't really necessary for video.
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post #13 of 70
Greasy hands are always going to be an issue. They need to install small windshield wipers...
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post #14 of 70
Quote:
That's a big looking iPod there?

It seems Apple only describe the basic functionality in their patent files. When and if the device is actually launched it never looks as clunky as the sketch in the patent filing.

Quote:
Well this most likely is gonna be a seperate thing and not replace the ipod with video anyways. Besides a click wheel isn't really necessary for video.

Yeah this sounds like a device aimed more at video. It would be really interesting if it had digital component outputs.
post #15 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by macinthe408

It's fake because they misspelled 'freinds'.

The fingers don't look like that from ET.

I'm not ready to say fake yet, but I haven't found the patent search site to look.
post #16 of 70
People, stop syaing this is fake. This is not fake! Nobody would bother going to that effrot to make this shit up/put this together. It's real, I'm sure of it, deal with it.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #17 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by ricksbrain

Greasy hands are always going to be an issue. They need to install small windshield wipers...

Greazy hands are always going to be an issue with ALL apple products.
post #18 of 70
How would you pick this thing up without it doing something crazy by accident
post #19 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by ricksbrain

Greasy hands are always going to be an issue. They need to install small windshield wipers...

HAHA! Now that's funny.
post #20 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gee4orce

How would you pick this thing up without it doing something crazy by accident

My guess is the same way you pick up a regular iPod without doing something crazy by accident. By the sides...or by any other way...with the hold button on of course.
post #21 of 70
Well, you could then encase your ipod completely without having to design/sell/buy cases where the click wheel is exposed but still protected - as long as you access the control to activate the touch sensor controls. After the ipod, I think we can presume Apple will make it easy to use/activate.

And why wouldn't it be called an ipod anymore - it's not called the Apple movable clickwheel you can physically touch mp3 player ...

Note the song they chose? Lawyers in Love ... that's patent lawyer humor ...
post #22 of 70
All these pics functions could easily be applied to this device too, as it's quite obvious by the pictures in this patent that this device is going to be larger than the current iPod. 6" x 3 and a half, or 7" x 4?
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #23 of 70
As Ireland said, this more or less turns the iPod into a multi-function multi-controller. Amazing... if positioned correctly, this little fella really could be the center of your home entertainment & communications universe... now, where did I put that damn remote/phone/mp3 player...

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post #24 of 70
Imagine CoverFlow view + Motion Sensor !
Now that would be cool!

Newton's revenge! I want one now.
post #25 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella

Imagine CoverFlow view + Motion Sensor !
Now that would be cool!

Newton's revenge! I want one now.

Who knows... maybe Steve'll revive the ghost of Newton for this one...

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post #26 of 70
Maybe they're going to invent a screen that actually "clicks"!
And replace the dock with a charging pad.
post #27 of 70
I don't see it. The edges seem much less easy to use than the surface. Scrolling through playlists would seem to necessitate lifting your finger over and over again. One-handed operation doesn't seem feasible. And the fact that you lift the thing by the edges would mean you'd be accidentally giving it input all the time.
post #28 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRussell

I don't see it. The edges seem much less easy to use than the surface. Scrolling through playlists would seem to necessitate lifting your finger over and over again. One-handed operation doesn't seem feasible. And the fact that you lift the thing by the edges would mean you'd be accidentally giving it input all the time.

No way, this thing is going to be great... and don't you think Apple will have already thought of that? "...after a predefined time limit, the processing circuitry can begin to ignore that consistent touch data" - that solves the mis-touch input problem. I'm really excited about this patent because I was wondering how they'd get around having to actually touch a screen, which gets things messy. This will be great.
post #29 of 70
Well I'd just like to see it - at this point I really can't picture it. I'm sure Apple wouldn't release it if it truly sucked... on the other hand they did have the hockey puck mouse for how many years?
post #30 of 70
One MAJOR drawback to the whole touch sensitive display interface is it's lack of tactile feedback. With the current iPods You can find and use the controls without seeing them. Ever keep your iPod in an inner coat pocket? when a song your not in the mood for shuffles up. You can just reach in. Locate the edge of the wheel and click next. Since the wheel is offset from the center, you can tell the orientation of the ipod during the action. The prospect of this with nothing more than a flat slab? Useless. The ipod must then come out of the pocket. It must be visible to others while you do your thing. It's effortless interface just became a whole lot more cumbersome.

Does one enhancement have to degrade another function? These designers need to mock this up. Then Put on a blindfold and step into a dark closet with this stuck in their pocket. Then try to use the damn thing. They will quickly realize what idiots they're being.

I agree that a touch display player is really enticing. And a device that could to all the prospective tasks brought up above would be cool. But, only to gadget geeks willing to learn and memorize interfaces. This device just stepped away form the consumer crowd.
post #31 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plague Bearer

Does one enhancement have to degrade another function? These designers need to mock this up. Then Put on a blindfold and step into a dark closet with this stuck in their pocket. Then try to use the damn thing. They will quickly realize what idiots they're being.

Um, aren't we talking about a primarily VIDEO device here?
post #32 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plague Bearer

One MAJOR drawback to the whole touch sensitive display interface is it's lack of tactile feedback. With the current iPods You can find and use the controls without seeing them. Ever keep your iPod in an inner coat pocket? when a song your not in the mood for shuffles up. You can just reach in. Locate the edge of the wheel and click next. Since the wheel is offset from the center, you can tell the orientation of the ipod during the action. The prospect of this with nothing more than a flat slab? Useless. The ipod must then come out of the pocket. It must be visible to others while you do your thing. It's effortless interface just became a whole lot more cumbersome.

Does one enhancement have to degrade another function? These designers need to mock this up. Then Put on a blindfold and step into a dark closet with this stuck in their pocket. Then try to use the damn thing. They will quickly realize what idiots they're being.

I agree that a touch display player is really enticing. And a device that could to all the prospective tasks brought up above would be cool. But, only to gadget geeks willing to learn and memorize interfaces. This device just stepped away form the consumer crowd.

I do as you state all the time - locate the click wheel from the outside of my pocket and skip song or start over, etc.

However, I actually see this technology making such an action even easier. One could find a corner of the device (or even an entire side) to do the same action. If I want to skip a song, just click on the upper right corner or right side. Want to increase the volume, just rub the bottom of the device from left to right. I think that finding an edge or corner would be easier than finding the wheel.

I do think though, that I might miss the click wheel. Spinning your thumb to get through a large list is more efficient than an up/down or left/right action.
post #33 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plague Bearer

One MAJOR drawback to the whole touch sensitive display interface is it's lack of tactile feedback. With the current iPods You can find and use the controls without seeing them. Ever keep your iPod in an inner coat pocket? when a song your not in the mood for shuffles up. You can just reach in. Locate the edge of the wheel and click next. Since the wheel is offset from the center, you can tell the orientation of the ipod during the action. The prospect of this with nothing more than a flat slab? Useless. The ipod must then come out of the pocket. It must be visible to others while you do your thing. It's effortless interface just became a whole lot more cumbersome.

Does one enhancement have to degrade another function? These designers need to mock this up. Then Put on a blindfold and step into a dark closet with this stuck in their pocket. Then try to use the damn thing. They will quickly realize what idiots they're being.

I agree that a touch display player is really enticing. And a device that could to all the prospective tasks brought up above would be cool. But, only to gadget geeks willing to learn and memorize interfaces. This device just stepped away form the consumer crowd.

This is very true and I hope the physical click wheel will be there someway.
I'm pretty sure Apple is aware of that. Simplicity is their philosophy. So I would be very surprise with this patent becomes the final product.
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post #34 of 70
The physical wheel will be a virtual one (the patent include the description of it)
Apple is not going to give up the main feature that prevails its Ipod from competitors.
As you don't have any feedback from the clickwheel, I mean by touching it, there will be no difference if you use a virtual one on the screen (close to your thumb). It will be even better if you don't have to find it. Just click wherever on the screen and the wheel appear! Better...

The good idea is to combine touch screen and bezel control!
post #35 of 70
why not a tactile area for skipping songs or changing volume, etc - a textured section of one side [nobby, knurled, whatever] so you can operate this thing blindfolded. or a few areas of different textures. my main concern with the touchscreen was lack of a tactile interface.
as for scrolling through LONG playlists, just PRESS HARDER to scroll faster. it's supposed to sense that as well.

all of these "ultimate multi-function" posts are fogetting the most important part. ring ring.
post #36 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plague Bearer

One MAJOR drawback to the whole touch sensitive display interface is it's lack of tactile feedback. With the current iPods You can find and use the controls without seeing them.

And of course you would never want to look at a video player. Perish the thought.
post #37 of 70
Do you think that if the "true" video comes out they are going to stop selling the current iPods or just make the new ones more expensive and keep these too?

If they do keep the current "video" iPods then what would they call the new ones? iPod Video II ?

Maybe it is going to be some sort of an ultra portable.
post #38 of 70
This thing has all the potential in the world. My guess is that this wouldn't completely replace the current iPods unless (or until) they don't sell anymore.

As for the random input problem when picking up the device, I think one could either use the hold switch or perhaps the screen could (optionally) lock itself after a specified amount of time and then require some multi-touch operation to unlock it again (ie, touch two fingers in a certain spot or double tap a certain spot).
post #39 of 70
iRiver U-10?
post #40 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by ai51240

Do you think that if the "true" video comes out they are going to stop selling the current iPods or just make the new ones more expensive and keep these too?

If they do keep the current "video" iPods then what would they call the new ones? iPod Video II ?

Maybe it is going to be some sort of an ultra portable.

A 1st Gen iPod Video hasn't been released so it could be called the iPod Video (if Apple wanted). The iPod is branded (the) iPod. It just happens to play video

I'm hoping for an Ultra Portable though to be honest. This multi-point, touch sensitive bezel, magnetic sensor; Tablet, Video iPod, iPhone is going to be the squirrels left nut.
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