The world's first Multi-Touch mouse happens to be Apple's new Magic Mouse. It swipes, scrolls, accepts gestures and clicks – even to the tune of offering 3 and 4 click programmable action options. Interestingly, two of Apple's Magic Mouse patents that painstakingly detail this revolutionary mouse just happened to magically appear in the European Patent Office recently with references made to two US filings which were never published on the USPTO's public database listing for some reason. With that said, the two patents presented here today will be of interest to engineering students and those who simply love to understand the magic behind breakthrough products. It should also be noted that Apple's Magic Mouse webpage makes a specific reference to a laser-tracking engine that's more sensitive than traditional optical tracking. The two noted patents presented here today only reference optical tracking. So the switch to laser must have been a last minute implementation prior to launch.
Most computing systems could receive input from a user via an input device such as a mouse. The mouse could allow the user to move an input pointer, e.g., a cursor, in a user interface (UI) on a display screen of the computing system and to make a selection in the UI with the pointer, thereby triggering various operations in the computing system. The mouse could include a mechanism for tracking its motion, which could be translated into signals that the computing system could use to move the input pointer in the UI. For example, an optical mouse can include a small light-emitting diode (LED), located on the underside of the mouse, to bounce light off a surface back to an optical sensor in the mouse in order to track the mouse motion. The optical sensor could send an image of "bounced-back" light to a processor in the mouse, which could determine how far the mouse has moved since the last image. The mouse processor could send the corresponding motion coordinates to the computing system. The motion of the mouse could generally correspond to the motion of the input pointer in the UI. Thus, by moving the mouse on a surface, the user could move the input pointer in similar directions in the UI. In an alternate example, a mouse trackball may be used to track the mouse motion.
The mouse could also include a mechanism for data selection in the UI. The mouse could allow the user to make a selection in the UI on the display screen by moving the pointer. For example, a touch sensitive mouse could include a touch sensor panel, which could include a panel of touch sensors and a touch sensitive surface covering a portion or substantially the entire top surface of the mouse, to make a selection. The touch sensor panel could detect a touch event and the surface location of the touch event using the touch sensors and could send the touch event information to the computing system. The computing system could interpret the touch event and thereafter perform one or more operations based on the touch event. By way of example, a data selection operation, such as a scroll operation, could be performed when a scroll motion is detected on the touch sensitive surface of the mouse. In an alternate example, a mouse scroll wheel may be used to make a selection in the UI on the display screen.
However, when moving the mouse in order to move the input pointer in the UI, it could be difficult for the user to avoid making certain finger motions on the mouse surface, which can be erroneously interpreted as an intended gesture, e.g., a scroll gesture. Conversely, when making certain robust gestures on the mouse surface, e.g., a rotate gesture, in order to cause the computing system to perform an operation, it could be difficult for the user to avoid moving the mouse, which could be erroneously interpreted as an intended mouse motion.
This Patent relates to the suppression of errant motion regarding a mouse using integrated mouse and touch information.
In some embodiments, an errant gesture made on a surface of a touch sensitive mouse could be at least partially suppressed by taking into account mouse motion. For example, a touch event appearing to be a gesture could be detected on the mouse surface and a motion of the mouse could be determined. Mouse and touch information could be integrated such that the touch event comprising finger motions that are small relative to the mouse motion could be indicative of an errant gesture and therefore at least partially suppressed, while the touch event comprising finger motions that are large relative to the mouse motion could be indicative of an intended gesture and therefore processed.
In some embodiments, an errant mouse motion could be at least partially suppressed by taking into account a gesture detected on a surface of the mouse. For example, a touch event appearing to be a gesture could be detected on the mouse surface and a motion of the mouse could be determined. Mouse and touch information could be integrated such that the mouse motion that is small relative to the gesture motion could be indicative of errant mouse motion and therefore at least partially suppressed, while the mouse motion that is large relative to the gesture motion could be indicative of an intended mouse motion and therefore processed.
Key Magic Mouse Patent Figures
In Apple's FIG. 9 of the "962-patent" shown below, we see exemplary software blocks which could include errant motion suppression algorithms. In this example touch sensitive mouse 910 could be contacted by user's hand 905 to cause some mouse event and/or make some gesture on the mouse surface. Data generated by the mouse event could be inputted to mouse motion filtering module 915. Mouse motion data could be generated by a mouse movement event. Mouse click data could be generated by a mouse click event.
Apple's "963-patent" FIG. 4 illustrates an exemplary computing system implementing gesture generation and detection algorithms. Of course the patent goes into great detail on this Figure.
Apple's patent FIG. 1B from the "962-patent" simply illustrates an exemplary finger path for a scroll motion: FIG. 10 from the same patent illustrates the top view of Apple's Magic Mouse that includes a touch sensor panel 1024 on a mouse top surface, a base 1045. Interestingly, the patent states that the bottom of the mouse contains an optical sensor which is contrary to Apple's final product which utilized a laser tracking system.
Apple's patent FIG. 11 from the "962-patent" illustrates an exemplary method for suppressing an errant mouse motion using a gesture motion in a detected touch on the mouse surface according to embodiments of the invention. Rather than suppressing an errant gesture motion taking into account mouse motion, as in some previously described embodiments, errant mouse motion could be suppressed taking into account gesture motion. By way of example, a rotate gesture (moving the thumb and forefinger in a rotating manner like unscrewing a bottle cap) on a mouse surface could cause the mouse to inadvertently move due to the robust nature of the gesture movements. In such a case, the input pointer could inadvertently move in the UI on the display screen in response to the errant mouse motion. The patent then goes in the various mathematical equations relating to this subject matter.
The two patents in question are 20100117962 and 20100117963 respectfully titled "Suppressing Errant Motion Using Integrated Mouse and Touch Information" and "Generating Gestures Tailored to a Hand Resting on a Surface."
It should be noted that Apple's marketing webpage makes a specific reference to a laser-tracking engine that's more sensitive than traditional optical tracking. The two noted patents presented here today only reference optical tracking. So the switch to laser must have been a last minute implementation prior to launch. Can Apple do that and still be protected by this patent? Yes, by simply stating what they did in patent point #0047: "It is to be understood that the mouse is not limited to optical sensors for determining mouse speed, but can use a trackball, an accelerometer, a gyroscope, and other such devices capable of determining mouse speed."
Apple credits Wayne Westerman and Christopher Mullens for the "962-patent" or 20100117962 titled "Suppressing Errant Motion Using Integrated Mouse and Touch Information" while Westerman and Rico Zorkendorfer are credited for the "963-patent" or 20100117963 titled "Generating Gestures Tailored to a Hand Resting on a Surface." Both patents were originally filed in Q4 2008. Apple's European filing numbers are 20100056916 and 917. It should be noted that while the patents could be found in the USPTO database once the numbers were known, the patents were not "listed" on the public database listing for May 13, 2010.
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