Touch mice and wheeled keyboards, Apple's new patents

Touch mice and wheeled keyboards, Apple's new patents

Summary: Apple has filed for two new patents that show a new direction that the company is taking with respect to input devices.

Apple Mouse PatentApple has filed for two new patents that show a new direction that the company is taking with respect to input devices.

In a December 6, 2006 patent filing with the USPTO Apple's iPhone interface designer Brian Huppi describes a new mouse design that dumps traditional buttons and scroll wheels for a touch/grip-sensitive interface "that is capable of switching between operational modes based on the way a user holds or grips the device's enclosures" according to Apple Insider.

While re-thinking their mouse, Apple is also doing the same for the keyboard.

Apple Keyboard PatentOn April 12, Apple filed with the USPTO for a continuation of their patent application Method and Apparatus for Accelerated Scrolling. Apple's Accelerated Scrolling patent generally relates to the iPod's click wheel. The interesting twist with the continuation of the Apple patent is the inclusion of a picture of a click wheel into a keyboard in place of a numeric pad.

MacNN quotes from the patent: "The keyboard apparatus can also include a button associated with the rotational input unit. As shown in FIG. 7A, the button can be provided at a center region of the rotational input unit. However, the button is not required and, if provided, can be placed elsewhere, such as outside the periphery of the rotational input unit."

I've grown to love my Mighty Mice but I'm not sure about dropping the (almost invisible) mouse buttons and track ball in favor of a totally buttonless design. As for dropping a numeric keypad in favor of a click wheel? Isn't that kind of like going from a touch tone to a rotary dial telephone? I'd love to hear some accountants weigh in on that one.

Topic: Apple

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  • That click wheel takes a LOT of space

    What's wrong with a traditional scroll wheel built into the keyboard? I have one of those and it works fine, and only takes maybe two inches vertically and a half an inch horizontally.
    Michael Kelly
  • Bluetooth in Keyboard

    Why not embed bluetooth for a cordless mouse in the keyboard? You wouldn't have to give up the mouse or the numeric pad. You could have a cordless mouse and functional keyboard indicator lights with only one USB connection.
    • Mighty Mouse and Wireless Keyboard

      Apple already sells bluetooth keyboards and mice.
    • Don;t understand

      maybe I do not understand what you mean, but Apple is using embedded bluetooth
      technology for years and both keyboard and mightmouse work that way.
  • Maybe...

    Maybe it takes up less space than actual keys and therefore beneficial to some ultra
    mobile unit? Who knows... Patents are nothing more than protection for ideas. I'm
    sure Apple has tons of unused patents. I don't think we'll be seeing this one come to
  • Just protecting IDEAS, not necessarily products

    I personally like the out of the box thinking demonstrated here. The practicality is beside the point. This is a mere stepping stone to innovative ways we might interface with our computers in the future.
    • In a word: greed.

      I may be being way too cynical; but you're being way too contrary.