Apple files for second force-sensitive display patent

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
If a recent series of patent filings with the United States Patent and Trademark Office is of any indication, Apple Inc. as early as next year could add force-sensitive detection to the repertoire of its fledgling multi-touch platform, AppleInsider believes.



On the heels of last week's discovery of a patent titled "Force Imaging Input Device and System," documents published for the first time on Thursday reveal a successive and similarly focused filing titled "Force and Location Sensitive Display."



Originally submitted to the USPTO on May 9th of last year -- about five weeks after the first -- the patent request again describes today's touchscreens and touchpads as limited by their relatively simple input, which track only the location of the finger or stylus on the surface.



A method of detecting the strength of the user's input would add a new element of control, Apple again suggests. Such a device capable of providing both force and location detection would include "a first transparent substrate (having first and second sets of conductive traces oriented in a first direction), a second transparent substrate (having a third set of conductive traces oriented in a second direction) and a plurality of deformable members (e.g., rubber beads) arranged between the first and second transparent substrates."



Apple explains that the first set of conductive traces, in combination with the conductive traces of the second transparent element, would provide a capacitance signal representing where a user touches the display element. Meanwhile, the second set of conductive traces, in combination with the conductive traces of the second transparent element, would provide a capacitance signal representing the amount of force applied to the display element.







"When used with a display element (e.g., a LCD or CRT), an input-output unit capable of both location sensing and force sensing operations is provided," the company wrote.



Presumably, such technology could first surface in a second-generation of the company's iPhone handset, or more likely the reincarnated Newton PDA.



The latest filing was credited to Apple engineer Steven Hotelling, while the earlier filing named both Hotelling and Brian Huppi.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    I'm excited!



    I love thinking about what Apple could have up her sleeve.
  • Reply 2 of 24
    I'm excited by this filing also... although I disagree with the practicality of the iPhone's multi-touch, there are many more products that could effectively use touch to enhance apps running under OSX (did anyone say GarageBand, Final Cut, Adobe's suite of programs, etc.)!
  • Reply 3 of 24
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    I'm excited by this filing also... although I disagree with the practicality of the iPhone's multi-touch, there are many more products that could effectively use touch to enhance apps running under OSX (did anyone say GarageBand, Final Cut, Adobe's suite of programs, etc.)!



    Seriously!!!



    Quoted For Truth.
  • Reply 4 of 24
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    Multi-touch, accurate tilt sensor... and force sensing. Bring on the games!



    (The ringer vibration could even be used for force feedback, at the expense of battery life.)
  • Reply 5 of 24
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,267member
    This looks as though it could do what MS is doing, in a far more complex way with its surface table computer. That requires cameras. This could do it with touch.
  • Reply 6 of 24
    shetlineshetline Posts: 4,695member
    It would really be nice if activating a link or button in the iPhone interface required just a little more pressure than scrolling and zooming gestures.
  • Reply 7 of 24
    bageljoeybageljoey Posts: 1,742member
    I don't know about you, but I have noticed a trend away from including hands or fingers in these patent drawlings.

    It is truly a shame.



    Still, its cool stuff. I'm ready for my iTabletPhonePodBook of the future!
  • Reply 8 of 24
    satchmosatchmo Posts: 2,699member
    Not to rain on everyone's parade, but has there been any user interface studies that show multi-touch (or similar) usiing hand gestures is any better than a simple stylus or mouse?

    Just curious if repetitive actions using arm/hand gestures would be physically more likely to cause carpel tunnel syndrome.
  • Reply 9 of 24
    Just covering their ass I guess. Most of these patents that AI has published haven't come to light if memory serves me correct.
  • Reply 10 of 24
    Granted, it has nothing to do with force-response but now all we need to see is a force-return by which the computer responds with an opposite force in the vicinity of where a key might be in order to effectively recreate a keyboard on a flat panel input-output device. Added with force response we're talking about a truly versatile and disruptive personal computing device.
  • Reply 11 of 24
    irelandireland Posts: 17,493member
  • Reply 12 of 24
    johnqhjohnqh Posts: 242member
    It is amazing that if Apple files a patent, everyone's in joy. But if someone else had the patent first, he's a patent troll.



    I am not saying they aren't good inventions. Actually, both of those patenst will (again) change our way of computing in a fundamental way, and I am pretty excited about them. Way to go, Apple.



    Now....if they can figure out how to provide some physical feedback from LCD, we will get rid of physical buttons for good.



    For example, I still think the scrolling wheel of the old iPod is easier way to scroll through a list than the iPhone/iPod Touch. A on-screen scrolling wheel is easy to do. However, without physical feedback, moving thumb in cycles on a glass surface is just weird. If Apple can change the screen characteristics to skin when a UI element is shown, that would be a killer invention.
  • Reply 13 of 24
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by johnqh View Post


    It is amazing that if Apple files a patent, everyone's in joy. But if someone else had the patent first, he's a patent troll.



    I am not saying they aren't good inventions. Actually, both of those patenst will (again) change our way of computing in a fundamental way, and I am pretty excited about them. Way to go, Apple.



    Now....if they can figure out how to provide some physical feedback from LCD, we will get rid of physical buttons for good.



    For example, I still think the scrolling wheel of the old iPod is easier way to scroll through a list than the iPhone/iPod Touch. A on-screen scrolling wheel is easy to do. However, without physical feedback, moving thumb in cycles on a glass surface is just weird. If Apple can change the screen characteristics to skin when a UI element is shown, that would be a killer invention.



    In addition to 'force return' as defined by WakeCharlie, once the "computer controlled deformable surface" (similar to catoms) is developed, keys could visibly rise from the transparent surface, enabling the simulation of a keyboard with genuine tactile response.
  • Reply 14 of 24
    onlookeronlooker Posts: 5,252member
    My guess is that it's for a convertable tablet computer that does it all. A total laptop replacement. Force sensitive for wacom style input. It will be just as thin as existing MacBooks, and MacBook Pro's.
  • Reply 15 of 24
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,267member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by johnqh View Post


    It is amazing that if Apple files a patent, everyone's in joy. But if someone else had the patent first, he's a patent troll.



    I am not saying they aren't good inventions. Actually, both of those patenst will (again) change our way of computing in a fundamental way, and I am pretty excited about them. Way to go, Apple.



    Now....if they can figure out how to provide some physical feedback from LCD, we will get rid of physical buttons for good.



    For example, I still think the scrolling wheel of the old iPod is easier way to scroll through a list than the iPhone/iPod Touch. A on-screen scrolling wheel is easy to do. However, without physical feedback, moving thumb in cycles on a glass surface is just weird. If Apple can change the screen characteristics to skin when a UI element is shown, that would be a killer invention.



    The point is that Apple is a company that actually builds, and sells stuff. These patent trolls, aren't only demeaned by us. It's the community in general that's unhappy with the situation. These companies buy up patents, "in distress". In other words, patents that have gone nowhere, wait until a product is doing well, seems similar, and then pounce.





    I've felt that someone with a patent should have to file a case shortly after something is on the market, before the market becomes very large, and profitable. Then a reasonable accord could be worked out. But, that's not what happens. They wait for years, to see how big the market will get, to try to get the most money they can. It disrupts development, because companies now have too much invested in it to try to find another way to do it. These companies count on that.



    That's patent trolling, and is should be restrained.



    But, if Apple, or MS, or GE, or some small company develops a legit technology, they should be allowed to patent it, in the hopes that it might prove useful, even if they never end up needing it.
  • Reply 16 of 24
    irelandireland Posts: 17,493member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by onlooker View Post


    My guess is that it's for a convertable tablet computer that does it all.



    We'll see. It'll definitely be different anyway.
  • Reply 17 of 24
    johnqhjohnqh Posts: 242member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by melgross View Post


    The point is that Apple is a company that actually builds, and sells stuff. These patent trolls, aren't only demeaned by us. It's the community in general that's unhappy with the situation. These companies buy up patents, "in distress". In other words, patents that have gone nowhere, wait until a product is doing well, seems similar, and then pounce.





    I've felt that someone with a patent should have to file a case shortly after something is on the market, before the market becomes very large, and profitable. Then a reasonable accord could be worked out. But, that's not what happens. They wait for years, to see how big the market will get, to try to get the most money they can. It disrupts development, because companies now have too much invested in it to try to find another way to do it. These companies count on that.



    That's patent trolling, and is should be restrained.



    But, if Apple, or MS, or GE, or some small company develops a legit technology, they should be allowed to patent it, in the hopes that it might prove useful, even if they never end up needing it.



    You really think the thousands or tens of thousands of patents Apple/MS/IBM applied are all made into the production? Certainly not. Didn't AppleInsider cover the "virtual" touchwheel patent Apple filed? Did it end up in iPod Touch? Answer is no.



    And do you really think none of the "patent troll's patent" went into production at some point of time? Actually, if you look at the history of the companies who end up in the news about patent lawsuits, most of them have tried to make the product at some point of time. However, with limited resources, they were driven out of market by the big companies.



    Patents filing is expensive. Please try to do one yourself and you will understand. 95% of the patents never make any money for the inventor. Purposely being a patent troll is almost a sure way to drive yourself into bankrupcy. It is a simple math - you file 20 patents (that will cost at least 500K in CA) and maybe 1 will have a chance to make money.



    Knowing the numbers, would you want to be a patent troll?



    More useless patents are from the big companies simply because they can afford it. (Did you know IBM patented a way to select multiple check boxes in one drag action? If not, search for it on slashdot) Small inventors are much more careful about only filing the patents they believe in because it is EXPENSIVE.
  • Reply 18 of 24
    johnqhjohnqh Posts: 242member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    In addition to 'force return' as defined by WakeCharlie, once the "computer controlled deformable surface" (similar to catoms) is developed, keys could visibly rise from the transparent surface, enabling the simulation of a keyboard with genuine tactile response.



    I doubt that will happen.



    I am thinking more about the texture change - by using some kind of material which changes the surface smoothness/roughness when it is electronically charged. I am sure this is possible someday.
  • Reply 19 of 24
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,267member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by johnqh View Post


    You really think the thousands or tens of thousands of patents Apple/MS/IBM applied are all made into the production? Certainly not. Didn't AppleInsider cover the "virtual" touchwheel patent Apple filed? Did it end up in iPod Touch? Answer is no.



    That doesn't mean that it won't be used. Sometimes one patent's usefulness depends on another innovation that is still being worked on.



    And do you really think none of the "patent troll's patent" went into production at some point of time? Actually, if you look at the history of the companies who end up in the news about patent lawsuits, most of them have tried to make the product at some point of time. However, with limited resources, they were driven out of market by the big companies.



    Quote:

    Patents filing is expensive. Please try to do one yourself and you will understand. 95% of the patents never make any money for the inventor. Purposely being a patent troll is almost a sure way to drive yourself into bankrupcy. It is a simple math - you file 20 patents (that will cost at least 500K in CA) and maybe 1 will have a chance to make money.



    You mean "patent filings are expensive". My professional audio manufacturing comnpany, Magnum Opus, had over 50 patents, so yes, I know about filing patents and the costs involved.



    Quote:

    Knowing the numbers, would you want to be a patent troll?



    You don't know much about this issue, do you? These patent trolling companies buy up patents for low costs. They then sit on them. When they do pounce, they can make enough money on one issue to pay for their entire portfolie many times over.



    It isn't really required that I argue with you about this, because the facts are not in question. There are those who patent troll. That's it.



    If you don't know about this, go and look up the lawsuits that have been filed in the past five years or so.



    Quote:

    More useless patents are from the big companies simply because they can afford it. (Did you know IBM patented a way to select multiple check boxes in one drag action? If not, search for it on slashdot) Small inventors are much more careful about only filing the patents they believe in because it is EXPENSIVE.



    You really don't know this. you are just making assumptions.



    Apple doesn't have thousands of patents. IBM has always been one of the leading R&D organizations. They have used many of their patents, and licensed out many others.



    Companies often sell patents as well. Sometimes they are used in technology exchanges with other companies.



    You're talking about innovative companies who have done much in their respective areas.



    Don't compare that to a company that buys patents, or defunct companies with them, and then sits on the sidelines, checking if companies are doing something that seems similar, so that, when they think the time is right, threaten to sue, in the hope that they will settle.



    This benefits no one other than those who have contributed nothing.
  • Reply 20 of 24
    johnqhjohnqh Posts: 242member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by melgross View Post


    You don't know much about this issue, do you? These patent trolling companies buy up patents for low costs. They then sit on them. When they do pounce, they can make enough money on one issue to pay for their entire portfolie many times over.

    .



    Most of the companies who are involved in the patent lawsuites are the original creators of the patents. Sorry, at least for the past several patent lawsuits covered by AppleInsider (and so many people crying "patent trolls"), that's the case.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by melgross View Post


    It isn't really required that I argue with you about this, because the facts are not in question. There are those who patent troll. That's it.

    .



    So, are you saying the patent trolls are only the ones who buy up defunct patents? If someone files a patent, he is not a troll? What is your definition?



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by melgross View Post


    If you don't know about this, go and look up the lawsuits that have been filed in the past five years or so.



    I am not talking about "lawsuits that have been filed in the past five years or so". I am talking about how the AppleInsider community react to patents - if it is from Apple, people cheers; if it is from someone else, it is a troll.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by melgross View Post


    You really don't know this. you are just making assumptions.



    I have personally filed six patents over the years for different jobs. I am not making any assumptions.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by melgross View Post


    Apple doesn't have thousands of patents. IBM has always been one of the leading R&D organizations. They have used many of their patents, and licensed out many others.



    Yes, Apple does. USPTO shows over 2000 patents assigned to Apple



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by melgross View Post


    You're talking about innovative companies who have done much in their respective areas.



    Don't compare that to a company that buys patents, or defunct companies with them, and then sits on the sidelines, checking if companies are doing something that seems similar, so that, when they think the time is right, threaten to sue, in the hope that they will settle.



    This benefits no one other than those who have contributed nothing.



    OK, so if a company succeeds in the market, then its patents are innovation. But if a company defunct, then its patents are useless and should be considered patent troll?



    Well, so everything NeXT did (remember NeXT? The technology which saved Apple?) was useless.



    How about Be? It essentially went out of business and Palm bought its IP portfolio (including patents) How about DEC? How about SyQuest?



    I can give you an endless list of companies which we will all agree to be real innovators, who failed in the market place, got bought up by either a successful company and resurfaced (in the case of NeXT), or pretty much disappeared.



    My point is, you cannot judge whether a patent is valid or not just because it is from this or that company. Apple or IBM has some good patents, but they have some "obvious" nonsense too. A small business which nobody heard of may have some good patents too. It is NOT ABOUT who hold the patent, it is about whether the patent has some real good innovation.
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