Apple may extend multi-touch to computer mice

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Apple Inc. has filed for a patent describing a computer mouse having a touch-sensitive shell capable of accepting multi-touch finger gestures, similar to the surface of the company's iPhone handset.



"The invention relates to a configurable mouse with an extended sensing surface, which provides the mouse a customizable, programmable or adaptable way of generating inputs," Apple wrote in the filing.



A "position detection mechanism" would detect the movement of the mouse along a surface, while "a multipoint touch detection mechanism" would simultaneously gather feedback from one or more objects that are contacting or in close proximity to a substantially large portion of the grippable mouse shell. "The mouse additionally includes a controller for processing signals generated by the position detection mechanism and multipoint touch detection mechanism," Apple explained.



The controller would include methods for obtaining images of a hand as it interacts with any portion of an arbitrarily shaped mouse housing. It would also obtain touch patterns for each image, extract control information from the resulting touch patterns, and control some aspect of a host device based on the control information.



As the filing explains in more detail: an "optical imaging system" could include "an illumination source for illuminating the 3D shaped top shell, an image sensor arrangement for imaging the 3D shaped top shell when the 3D shaped top shell is illuminated, and a wide angle lens assembly that allows the substantially large portion of the 3D shaped top shell to be imaged by the image sensor arrangement."



Apple said the illumination source would include one or more light sources, while the image sensor arrangement would also include one or more image sensors. "The mouse additionally includes a controller operatively coupled to the mouse tracking unit and optical imaging system, and configured to control the operations of the mouse tracking unit and the optical imaging system," the company wrote. "The controller includes a mouse tracking module associated with the mouse tracking unit and an optical sensing module associated with the optical imaging system."







Another embodiment of the invention calls for methods of imaging the entire or substantially large portion of a 3D shaped top shell of a mouse. This method would include mapping the 3D image to flat space, and segmenting the flat space image into one or more features -- each of which represents a discrete touch on the surface of the top shell.



"The method additionally includes calculating contact patch parameters for each of the features," Apple wrote. "Moreover, the method includes sending the contact patch parameters to the host device so that actions can be performed base on the contact patch parameters."







In yet another embodiment of the same invention, the mouse could include a housing forming a grippable surface and a sliding surface, the filing states. This mouse would also include a mouse tracking unit built into the sliding surface, and an input mechanism built into the grippable surface that itself includes a touch sensitive protruding member that is supported by a force feedback unit that is attached to the housing.



"The force feedback unit produces force feedback at the touch sensitive protruding member in response to inputs generated at the touch sensitive surface," Apple explained.



The March 13, 2006 filing is credited to Apple employees Christoph Krah and Steve Hotelling.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 49
    bergermeisterbergermeister Posts: 6,784member
    Might want to merge this with the Multi-Mouse thread to keep things tidy...
  • Reply 2 of 49
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,221member
    I have a feeling that the R&D group at Apple sits around saying two things: (1) "What heck is the matter with our competition? Why do we have to do all the envelope-pushing" (2) "Boy, this is like swiping candy from a baby's hands."



    PS: You should correct the spelling error in the first sentence ("sensitive", not "sensAtive"). Since AI gets high billing in many places these days (including hi-profile sites such as news.google.com), you want to put forward your best. Indeed, on that point, perhaps it is time you guys hired some editorial/copy-editing staff?
  • Reply 3 of 49
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,292member
    This could also be a defensive move.
  • Reply 4 of 49
    palex9palex9 Posts: 105member
    why not simply incorporate a touch area, ,also glass and maybe a little bit bigger than the iphone into the keyboard?



    the multi touch mouse seems overly complex.
  • Reply 5 of 49
    I'm not sure how much I'd like using all five of my fingers.



    Lets hope it's something good.
  • Reply 6 of 49
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,292member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by palex9 View Post


    why not simply incorporate a touch area, ,also glass and maybe a little bit bigger than the iphone into the keyboard?



    the multi touch mouse seems overly complex.



    Hence my comment it may be defensive, just to prevent MS et al doing there usual R&D (i.e. copying Apple any way they can). To them it would be better than nothing. Now Apple is blocking anything they can. ... Just a guess as i agree it would be a bit lame from Apple.
  • Reply 7 of 49
    jocknerdjocknerd Posts: 28member
    They keep trying to make a mouse more sophisticated, yet they continue to make the worst mice available. I'll stick with my Logitech 3 button scroll mouse.
  • Reply 8 of 49
    jupiteronejupiterone Posts: 1,564member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jocknerd View Post


    They keep trying to make a mouse more sophisticated, yet they continue to make the worst mice available. I'll stick with my Logitech 3 button scroll mouse.



    My first thought exactly! I mean, is the world really in need of a revolution in mouse technology? Oh well, it will be interesting to see those $200 mice!
  • Reply 9 of 49
    bergermeisterbergermeister Posts: 6,784member
    I've tried many mice and actually have only one on all my Macs now: MightyMouse. don't know what everyone's fuss is with it. Mine have always worked fine and are simpler to use than some of the other mice out there.



    The new mouse with a touch screen sounds like a major step forward, and yes, the world needs a revolutionary mouse. Like the multitouch keyboard possibilities, the mouse would work wonders. It could be programmed to respond differently depending on where it was located on the GUI, thus making controls come to life. The entire mouse could be controlled by a finger or two; this could be a miracle come true for some handicapped individuals, not to mention many others.
  • Reply 10 of 49
    robin hoodrobin hood Posts: 513member
    If it is indeed as revolutionary and easy to use as I imagine, people will be prepared to shell out $100. That is my prediction.
  • Reply 11 of 49
    jamezogjamezog Posts: 163member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


    This could also be a defensive move.



    I think you're right. Touch screen is a much better interface, and this sounds too complicated to be something Apple would really do. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think we're going to see the end of mice (and possibly keyboards) in the not-too-distant future. This patent seems to be more a protective action than a real product in the works.
  • Reply 12 of 49
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,725member
    I don't know why it would have to be a mouse at all. Why not just make a flat sensor? It could sense a spot from your finger and move wherever your finger went. Or, like a graphics tablet, you could simply drop your finger wherever you needed it, and then with a slight move, get to where it needed to be, rather than slide it all the way.



    The device could be a small replica og the screen in shape, again, just like a tablet.



    Multitouch would work as well.



    There are a number of ways to do this.
  • Reply 13 of 49
    A good use for this would be on a trackpad. Imagine dragging files and folders around by pretty much scrolling in any direction and actually move your cursor in a click and move thing. (click with one finger and drag with the other). Also, imagine the possiblility of hooking up two mice to a computer and instead of them both controlling the same cursor, adding a second to the screen and have them each control one of them. That could provide some interesting possibilities.
  • Reply 14 of 49
    haggarhaggar Posts: 1,568member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bergermeister View Post


    I've tried many mice and actually have only one on all my Macs now: MightyMouse. don't know what everyone's fuss is with it. Mine have always worked fine and are simpler to use than some of the other mice out there.



    Here are a couple of issues with the Mighty Mouse:



    1) If it is set up with different functions for left and right click, the mighty mouse often works erratically if there is more than 1 finger touching the top of the mouse, which is the way most computer users hold the mouse. For example, a left click sometimes becomes a right click. A right click sometimes fails to do anything.



    2) The mighty mouse does not support pressing more than one button at a time. On my Logitech MX mouse, I can hold down the side button to activate Expose to show the desktop, drag an icon using the left button, release the side button to make windows visible again, then release the left button to drop the icon onto the window.
  • Reply 15 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bergermeister View Post


    Might want to merge this with the Multi-Mouse thread to keep things tidy...



    or just delete it!
  • Reply 16 of 49
    If that diagram with the circles for each finger on the mouse is correct, the mouse would have to be very large (width) because I don't know many people that have hands small enough for them to have index, middle, and ring fingers on the top surface of the mouse and pinky on the side of it, like is shown.



    Update: Actually, I tried it again and it seems possible, but it's not very comfortable (the 3 fingers on top are pretty squished together)
  • Reply 17 of 49
    haggarhaggar Posts: 1,568member
    I would like to see support for pressure sensitive mouse buttons. This could be useful in Photoshop as well as games.
  • Reply 18 of 49
    nufasenufase Posts: 24member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Haggar View Post


    Here are a couple of issues with the Mighty Mouse:



    1) If it is set up with different functions for left and right click, the mighty mouse often works erratically if there is more than 1 finger touching the top of the mouse, which is the way most computer users hold the mouse. For example, a left click sometimes becomes a right click. A right click sometimes fails to do anything.



    2) The mighty mouse does not support pressing more than one button at a time. On my Logitech MX mouse, I can hold down the side button to activate Expose to show the desktop, drag an icon using the left button, release the side button to make windows visible again, then release the left button to drop the icon onto the window.



    Your second statement is simply not true. I do the exact same movement on my mighty mouse. I have the centre click set up to move all windows and revel the desktop (expose) and I can then click and drag with the left button to select files, click the centre again to get my windows back and then move files into those finder windows.
  • Reply 19 of 49
    meelashmeelash Posts: 1,045member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jocknerd View Post


    They keep trying to make a mouse more sophisticated, yet they continue to make the worst mice available. I'll stick with my Logitech 3 button scroll mouse.



    Is there another mouse with 360º scrolling? Because I find that to be incredible.
  • Reply 20 of 49
    meelashmeelash Posts: 1,045member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Haggar View Post


    2) The mighty mouse does not support pressing more than one button at a time. On my Logitech MX mouse, I can hold down the side button to activate Expose to show the desktop, drag an icon using the left button, release the side button to make windows visible again, then release the left button to drop the icon onto the window.



    Are you sure you've describe this correctly? It usually takes one click to toggle Expose. So, if what you are describing is true, that means that your Logitech has both pressing and releasing mapped to the same click event. That would be pretty frustrating if you wanted to just show the desktop and leave it shown.
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