Recent Apple Patent Filing Describes Backlit Touchpads and Click-Wheels

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Date: Wednesday, July 18th, 2007, 11:55
Category: Hardware

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A recent Apple patent filing submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office published earlier this month discusses the concept of illuminated touchpads and click-wheels as a means of providing constant visual feedback.
According to AppleInsider, which pointed out the 34-page filing, Apple cited that visual stimuli could be used to both alert the user via feedback to a touch event as well as be used in low light conditions.
The patent filing also stated that such devices could change intensity or color based on motion characteristics or pressure. Visual characteristics could also be used to highlight events, especially before and after an event occurred.
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fruitlogo1.jpg
A recent Apple patent filing submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office published earlier this month discusses the concept of illuminated touchpads and click-wheels as a means of providing constant visual feedback.
According to AppleInsider, which pointed out the 34-page filing, Apple cited that visual stimuli could be used to both alert the user via feedback to a touch event as well as be used in low light conditions.
The patent filing also stated that such devices could change intensity or color based on motion characteristics or pressure. Visual characteristics could also be used to highlight events, especially before and after an event occurred.
In one possible implementation, the visual feedback system described could emit light through the input surface as well as include one or more light surfaces as well as a light distribution system for distributing the light to the input surface. The light itself could also be diffused to create a characteristic glow around the input surface.
“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.”
Another possible implementation describes illuminated touchpads that sport display characteristics, such as a graphically based system that could generate graphics at the input surface. Such devices might prove to be cost-prohibitive and encourage the use of light-based systems.
A third possible implementation describes an illuminated portion of an iPod click-wheel wherein the illumination effect would follow the finger as it 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,” mentions the filing.
The filing was submitted on March 31st, 2006 and is credited to Apple employees Stanley Ng and Duncan Kerr. Other topics mentioned in the filing discuss using illuminated touchpads as “timer or a clock”, a final concept mentioning that multiple areas could be illuminated with different illumination profiles at the same time to allow for new user interface effects.
Cool stuff, albeit there’s no way to guess as to when these ideas might be implemented in forthcoming products.
If you have ideas or feedback about this, let us know in the forums.

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