Apple introduced a vision for a future version of their Magic Mouse back in 2010 that was the most descriptive patent filing on this subject matter. It described and illustrated how the next generation Magic Mouse would be able to sense a plurality of forces and applied velocities. It went into great detail about advanced gesture profiles for new "brush, scoop, tilt, and slide" capabilities. In 2013 Apple was granted their first patent on force sensing related to the Magic Mouse. Today, Apple has applied for a second patent on this future feature with refinements. In one example of using this future version of their Magic Mouse, Apple notes that "the amount of force may correspond to a height that a character in a video game is instructed to jump." Apple also envisions force sensing capabilities in a future Magic Mouse could apply to very sophisticated custom applications such as flight simulator and beyond.
Future Magic Mouse with Force Sensing Feature
One of Apple's latest invention generally relates to systems and methods for providing force sensing input devices. A force sensing input device (such as a force sensing mouse) may include at least one force sensor and at least one top portion movably connected (such as pivotally and/or otherwise rotatably connected via one or more pivot, one or more ball joint elements, and/or other such pivotal connection elements) to at least one bottom portion. When a force is applied to the top portion, the top portion may exert pressure on the force sensor. The force sensor may obtain force data based upon the pressure. The amount of force applied to the top portion, within a range of force amounts, may be determined from at least the force data (such as by the force sensing input device or by an electronic device to which the force sensing input device transmits the force data).
In this way, a broader range of inputs may be receivable from the force sensing input device as compared to input devices that merely detect whether or not a button or similar element has been pushed.
In some implementations, the force data and/or the determined amount of force may be scaled based on a detected location where the force is applied. In some cases of such implementations, the top portion may be a touch sensitive surface, such as a capacitive touch sensitive surface, that determines a location where the top of the force sensing input device is touched. In such cases, the location determined by the touch sensitive surface may be utilized as the detected location in order to scale the force data and/or the determined amount of force.
In other cases, the force sensing input device may include multiple force sensors. In such other cases, the detected location may be determined by comparing and/or combining force data from the multiple force sensors.
In various implementations, the force sensor may be one or more force sensors of various kinds. In some cases, such a force sensor may include one or more cantilever beams. Such cantilever beams may include one or more strain gauges.
In one or more implementations, the force sensing input device may include one or more feedback components. Such feedback components may include one or more auditory feedback devices, one or more haptic feedback devices that include solenoids and/or other mechanisms for vibrating any portion of the force sensing input device, one or more haptic feedback devices that cause objects to strike any portion of the force sensing input device, and/or any other kind of feedback component. Such feedback components may be configured to provide varying intensities of feedback in response to various inputs, statuses of associated electronic devices, and so on.
Apple's patent FIG. 1A noted above is an isometric view of a first implementation of a force sensing mouse FIG. 1B is an exploded isometric view of the force sensing mouse of FIG. 1A; Apple's patent FIG. 2 below is a flow chart illustrating a method for determining an amount of force applied to a force sensing input device. This method may be performed utilizing the force sensing mouse of FIG. 1A.
Beyond gaming and paint or drawing types of applications, Apple notes that there could be specialized uses in custom applications. Apple notes that "in cases where an amount of force is received along with an indication as to whether that force is a left force, a right force, or a middle force, the amount and kind of force may correspond to instructions for an aircraft in a flight simulator executing on the computing device. The kind of force (left, right, or middle) may correspond to the type of directional change that the aircraft is to make (pitch, yaw, or roll, respectively). Similarly, the amount of force may correspond to the speed at which the aircraft is to make the directional change."
Apple credits James Wright and Keith Hendren as the inventors of this patent application titled "Force Sensing Mouse" which was originally filed in Q1 2013. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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