Apple's Magic Mouse may gain shape-changing capabilities

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited March 2020
The next Magic Mouse may have shape-shifting abilities, changing its physical proportions to make itself more comfortable to hold in the user's hand for long periods of time.

Apple Magic Mouse 2


Long-time computer users are familiar with the need to have a mouse that fits their hand, if they are to be working for extended periods of time in comfort. Using key peripherals like a keyboard and mouse for a long time can lead to repetitive strain injury and other effects if the wrong size and style are used.

The user may also yearn for different sizes or styles of mouse depending on their task, with some work benefiting from using a physically larger mouse over a smaller version, or one that is wider rather than narrow. Though this is possible by acquiring multiple mice, this is a costly and wasteful method of accomplishing the same goal.

In a patent granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday titled "Mouse Having a Shape-Changing Enclosure," Apple proposes the idea of having a single mouse for all users, one that can alter its physical dimensions for the user.

An example of how an actuator could adjust the height of a mouse from within.
An example of how an actuator could adjust the height of a mouse from within.


The filing describes how a mouse can have an enclosure containing articulating members, with an exterior surface at the top meant for the placement of the user's palm. An actuator is contained within the enclosure that attaches to the articulating member, pushing and pulling the mouse between different positions.

By articulating the enclosure, the curvature and height can be adjusted to meet the user's preferences. Feasibly, this could also make the mouse thinner, allowing it to be more easily stored for transportation than a normal rounder mouse.

To ensure structural integrity, the enclosure could be made up of overlapping segments, eliminating any potential gaps that could catch a finger or weaken the overall structure when pressed. A jamming mechanism can prevent the actuator from moving once it is in position, keeping it in shape despite physical force from the user's grip.

An example of how a mouse could expand its width using pop-out sections.
An example of how a mouse could expand its width using pop-out sections.


While the articulation could apply just vertically, Apple also suggests the possibility of a mouse becoming wider. Slide-out sections on the side, again controlled by actuators, can pop out into a variety of positions to accommodate a wider grip.

These pop-out elements could still be contained within the overall enclosure, meaning the mouse could retain a sleek appearance without gaps or holes, while still being able to change its dimensions.

Another illustration of how the enclosure could adjust for the user.
Another illustration of how the enclosure could adjust for the user.


The actuation systems can take multiple forms, including scissor mechanisms, rotating motors with extending props, multi-segment actuators for greater control over size, and even magnet-based actuators.

Apple files numerous patent applications on a weekly basis, but while the existence of a patent filing indicates areas of interest for the company's research and development teams, it does not guarantee the described concepts will appear in a future product or service.

The patent lists its inventors as Paul X. Wang, Hongcheng Sun, and Alex J. Lehmann. Wang has a long and storied history with Apple in terms of patents, connected to patents including an iMac that could extend its desktop to nearby walls, extendable smart rings, haptic feedback for the Apple Pencil, and an iMac design made from a single sheet of glass.

Apple's patent applications relating to interface devices have largely encompassed other areas than the mouse, such as the keyboard and Apple Pencil, but there have been some mouse-related filings in the past. Apple has considered the use of magnets to power a mouse along with a short-range wireless charging system and solar power, a touch-sensitive mouse, a mouse with a scanner function, and even one with a multi-touch display.

As for the idea of an adjustable mouse, there are models on the market that provide some level of adjustability, such as interchangeable sections adjustable with a tool and the ability to add, remove, or adjust small weights. Microsoft's Arc mouse also provided shape-changing abilities, being able to switch from flat to curved positions, but in a more simplistic way without actuators.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    I cannot use the current Apple mouse as the sharp right edge cuts into my finger to the point where it is continuously painful.
  • Reply 2 of 11
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 6,957member
    jaweston said:
    I cannot use the current Apple mouse as the sharp right edge cuts into my finger to the point where it is continuously painful.
    For the first time in my life, I can say, "You're holding it wrong", and actually mean it.

    razorpitfastasleepwlymwatto_cobraFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 3 of 11
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,435member
     Long-time computer users are familiar with the need to have a mouse that fits their hand,”

    Like the infamous puck mouse? :smirk: 

    looking at this article may main reaction is that’s why there are different mouse models - because different hands. Just like headphones, you can make something that fits many people, even most, but you can never make something that fits everyone and meets all needs. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 11
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,062member
    MplsP said:
    Like the infamous puck mouse? :smirk: 
    In the era of one-click mice, its only problem is "you're holding it wrong" certainly applied. 

    The current MagicMouse is more awkward for me to use - if I'm trying to use any other feature than move and left-click. The edges aren't at all painful for me, just not really user friendly. There's also an instance where I regularly want to turn the MM off without clicking, and it's really difficult for me to do it first time, every time because of the thin edges. That's a niche use case, but wider/flatter edges would make me happy. I bet the Odo-Mouse never reaches fruition.
    edited March 2020
  • Reply 5 of 11
    bbhbbh Posts: 122member
    Who cares about the shape ? Just design it so you can use it while it is charging.
    MplsPleehammkimberly
  • Reply 6 of 11
    1348513485 Posts: 194member
    I use the battery-powered MM all day every day and I have no issues with it. Nice mouse in my opinion.

    But the rechargeable MM, with its moronic bottom port for charging and what seems to be an absurdly long charge time, is utterly stupid and I stopped using it about two months after I got it.
  • Reply 7 of 11
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,062member
    I just check the battery life in the menu from time to time.  If it's a little low at an inopportune time, just a few minute's charge and I'm good for a couple of hours. Then, charge at the end of the day, over night, and I'm good for another month+. There's no need to stop and charge it to 100% before continuing.
    razorpitfastasleepwlymFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 8 of 11
    leehammleehamm Posts: 49member
    A mouse so magic it can’t be used while charging. A mouse so magic it won’t work with the iPad Pro. I am happy with my Logitech MX Anywhere 2S mouse, that can connect to three devices, with no f’ing around with bluetooth.
  • Reply 9 of 11
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,686member
    MplsP said:
    “ Long-time computer users are familiar with the need to have a mouse that fits their hand,”

    Like the infamous puck mouse? :smirk: 

    looking at this article may main reaction is that’s why there are different mouse models - because different hands. Just like headphones, you can make something that fits many people, even most, but you can never make something that fits everyone and meets all needs. 
    So much better for your carpals not to mug your mouse.

    Puck was great at the time if you used it as a puck. Current Mouse could be better if it was smaller and back to puck like used proper battery not just a couple of heavy recharable AA's embedded inside a locked box.


  • Reply 10 of 11
    kimberlykimberly Posts: 384member
    Apple makes great stuff, but the MM isn't in that cohort in my book .. spoon in a bowl of soup.
  • Reply 11 of 11
    wlymwlym Posts: 102member
    I check the battery level every few days (easy with BT in the menubar) and when the mouse hits 25% battery I just plug it in that night and it's fully charged in the morning. Or, if I forget and it dies during the day, a few minutes plugged in gives me hours of use. But hating on it is fun too! Woowee!
    13485 said:
    I use the battery-powered MM all day every day and I have no issues with it. Nice mouse in my opinion.

    But the rechargeable MM, with its moronic bottom port for charging and what seems to be an absurdly long charge time, is utterly stupid and I stopped using it about two months after I got it.
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