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Apple patent describes illuminated touchpads, click-wheels

post #1 of 18
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In a patent filing published earlier this month, Apple discusses the concept of illuminated touchpads that could improve the overall user experience of certain electronics devices by providing handlers with constant visual feedback.

"Although touch pads work well, improvements to their form feel and functionality are desired. By way of example, it may be desirable to provide visual stimuli at the touch pad so that a user can better operate the touch pad," the Cupertino-based electronics maker wrote in the 34-page filing with the United States Patent and Trademark office.

For example, Apple said visual stimuli may be used (among other things) to alert a user when the touch pad is registering a touch, indicate where the touch is occurring on the touch pad, provide feedback related to a touch event, indicate the state of the touch pad, and so forth.

Backlit touchpads would not only alert the user to the location of the touchpad is in low light conditions, but also to give other feedback related to how the touch pad is being used. As an example, Apple said such touchpads could possibly change intensity or color based on motion characteristics or pressure, providing an illumination point that follows a finger as it is moved about the touch sensitive surface, showing different states with varying levels of brightness or color.

Alternatively, the company continued, visual effects could be used during and after the input event to dynamically indicate characteristics associated with the input events. These characteristics could include 'when,' 'where,' and 'the number of inputs' being made relative to the input surface.

"This type of feedback also improves inputting by providing visual cues to the user about the input device" as it is being used, Apple wrote. "Alternatively or additionally, the visual effects may be used before an input event to invoke the user to perform a particular input event at the input surface. This type of feedback also improves inputting by helping the user make appropriate inputs or helping them learn input gestures (e.g., timing, location and movements)."



In most cases, Apple said the visual effects (outputs) are linked or tied the input events being performed, and in those cases the visual feedback system should not be considered a separate display. Still, the technology could vary widely.

In one embodiment of Apple's invention, the visual feedback system is described as a light based system that illuminates the input surface through light emitting devices that may include one or more light sources and a light distribution system for distributing the light at the input surface.

However, the company explained that in some cases, the light from the light sources may be diffused so that the input surface emits a characteristic glow (not a precise point of light, but rather a blurred glowing effect or phosphorous glow):



"That is, the input surface can generate glowing special effects that may for example provide backlighting to the input surface and/or provide an outline, trace or shadow of the sensed object on the input surface," the filing states. "The glowing special effects may even indicate a state of the input device as for example when the input device is in a tracking state or gesture state."

In one application of the invention, however, Apple indeed describes illuminated touchpads that sport display characteristics. "The visual feedback system may be a graphically based system that generates graphics at the input surface," the company wrote. "LCDs, OLEDs and electronic inks are examples of graphically based systems. These devices however can be cost prohibitive and more complex to implement when compared to light based systems."



The patent also refers to an implementation where the illuminated portion of an iPod click-where follows the motion of the finger as it is moved across the surface. "The leading edge, body and trailing edge may have different illumination profiles. For example, the leading edge may have a high intensity level, the body may have a medium intensity level and the trailing edge may have a low intensity level."

The March 31, 2006 filing, which is credited to Apple employees Stanley Ng and Duncan Kerr, goes to discuss possibilities for illuminated touchpads that could be "used as a timer or clock" or that feature multiple areas that could be illuminated with different illumination profiles at the same time.
post #2 of 18
Quote:
and 'the number of inputs'

dang... Ireland was right. Multitouch in mouse trackpads. He IS SJ in disguise.
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post #3 of 18
Multi touch is partially there already with 2 finger scrolling on a trackpad, not as advanced as an iPhone but its there.
post #4 of 18
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Originally Posted by ajprice View Post

Multi touch is partially there already with 2 finger scrolling on a trackpad, not as advanced as an iPhone but its there.

I meant true multi-touch with abilities such as dragging a folder in the same manner as scrolling, and being able to resize windows, zoom, and other cool iPhone stuff. I am highly aware of the current 'multitouch' features of the trackpads, as I use one every day.
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post #5 of 18
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Originally Posted by bobmarksdale View Post

dang... Ireland was right. Multitouch in mouse trackpads. He IS SJ in disguise.

Never underestimate Ireland. He knows what he's talking about.
post #6 of 18
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Originally Posted by bobmarksdale View Post

dang... Ireland was right. Multitouch in mouse trackpads. He IS SJ in disguise.

Now I don't remember... did Ireland say it first, or did I...

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post #7 of 18
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Originally Posted by MurphyMac View Post

Never underestimate Ireland. He knows what he's talking about.

Totally! My Apple TV set is arriving tomorrow!!1!

If you make a post every time a thought enters your head...
post #8 of 18
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Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

Now I don't remember... did Ireland say it first, or did I...

You may have said it first, I don't know, but I do know that he posted about it a lot more than you which led me to believe that it was his idea. If it was your idea (you posted about it first, not necessarily yours originally), then I will give you the credit for it. But I don't think that you are SJ. No real reason, but it doesn't seem to fit as well.
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post #9 of 18
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Originally Posted by bobmarksdale View Post

You may have said it first, I don't know, but I do know that he posted about it a lot more than you which led me to believe that it was his idea. If it was your idea (you posted about it first, not necessarily yours originally), then I will give you the credit for it. But I don't think that you are SJ. No real reason, but it doesn't seem to fit as well.

Trust me... I'm no Steve Jobs.

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post #10 of 18
Korg has had something like this for years, check out

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=R1Q6tG...elated&search=

http://www.korg.com/gear/info.asp?a_...&category_id=2

I feel a lawsuit coming on, but Apple are used to those...
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by MurphyMac View Post

Never underestimate Ireland. He knows what he's talking about.

I'm a mere peasant compared to you Murph. MurphyMac
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post #12 of 18
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Originally Posted by HeWhoCantRememberHisName View Post

Korg has had something like this for years, check out

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=R1Q6tG...elated&search=

http://www.korg.com/gear/info.asp?a_...&category_id=2

I feel a lawsuit coming on, but Apple are used to those...

Hopefully, Apple can figure out how to break the 8x8 resolution barrier......
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post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeWhoCantRememberHisName View Post

Korg has had something like this for years, check out

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=R1Q6tG...elated&search=


This looks like Apple is gonna get rid of the physical keyboard on the Macbook/Macbook Pro! Imagine a smart virtual keyboard like the iPhone (but much bigger). A backlit keyboard is suddenly so last century as the virtual keyboard will shine anyway! Also, the option of having a second screen when you don't need your keyboard is very appealing. And it will make your Macbook (Pro) alotmore portable as dust won't get into your keyboard as it is easier to wipe your screens clean.

Owmygod, let's hope Apple takes the virtual keyboard route i/o introducing the silly Macbook keyboard to the Macbook Pro.
post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by mr O View Post

Also, the option of having a second screen when you don't need your keyboard is very appealing.

I am looking at you "Wacom"

http://www.wacom-europe.com/uk/index.asp

http://www.wacom-europe.com/bamboo/?lang=en
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeWhoCantRememberHisName View Post

Korg has had something like this for years, check out

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=R1Q6tG...elated&search=

http://www.korg.com/gear/info.asp?a_...&category_id=2

I feel a lawsuit coming on, but Apple are used to those...

I don't think the korg is actually capable of the "visual effects" mentioned in this patent.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AI

"However, the company explained that in some cases, the light from the light sources may be diffused so that the input surface emits a characteristic glow (not a precise point of light, but rather a blurred glowing effect or phosphorous glow)"

The fact that the matrix lights only seem to have an on/off capability, and no middle ground would make this level of visual feedback impossible with the korg. If there's a lawsuit it'll be spurious at best, and they'll probably be suing Yamaha first for the Tenori On.

The Tenori On does actually have pretty cool visual feedback features that sound quite similar to the "blured glowing effect or phosphorous glow"

I'm sure the apple implementation will use a lot higher density display than the korg or yamaha.

for fun here's a Tenori On Clip:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRXEx-uQR7E
post #16 of 18
OK, I read that as Illuminati touchpad.

I would love for the whole area below the keyboard to be a touch pad. Getting rid of the mechanical buttons would take some getting used to but Apple has had touch click on it's pads for a while.
post #17 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by bobmarksdale View Post

I meant true multi-touch with abilities such as dragging a folder in the same manner as scrolling, and being able to resize windows, zoom, and other cool iPhone stuff. I am highly aware of the current 'multitouch' features of the trackpads, as I use one every day.

Uhhh... I'm pretty sure this has nothing to do with resizing windows or dragging files, this is a patent to a (multi-)touch display/click wheel to add a special lighting effect to them. the technology itself doesn't really communicate with software much, other than specifying the SFX, not functioning the software.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HeWhoCantRememberHisName View Post

Korg has had something like this for years, check out

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=R1Q6tG...elated&search=

http://www.korg.com/gear/info.asp?a_...&category_id=2

I feel a lawsuit coming on, but Apple are used to those...

I don't think that's what Apple has in mind here... They have in mind putting some sort of a special backlighting system in it, perhaps with RGB colors, that can do a lot, like tint the screen a certain color if, say, it's prompting you that it's waiting for feedback, for example, if an alert window pops up, the SFX could tint the screen red, even limiting it to being red in the area around the alert. Or when you touch and drag, the area just around the finger can be white, to highlight your touch, kinda like the circle that shows a touch that is seen in some iPhone video. Suppose they build in a way to "right click" by having a second finger touching in one of the corners... the finger area could turn blue to indicate a different touch than the normal, one-finger touch. The finger area can also produce a tail, as well, showing the path of a drag. I kinda wonder if this feature specifically will be paired with the recent phone clickwheel patents will combine for an iPhone Mini/Nano, to play off like a rotary phone.
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post #18 of 18
never mind... I was wrong.
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