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Apple Invents Apple TV Remote that Replaces Physical Buttons with a Flat Surface and Force Touch Controls

1 x cover apple tv remote


Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to Apple TV's remote controller. One part of the patent focuses on the two-textured glass that came with the Apple TV remote when they introduced the Siri button. One part of the glass is smooth while the other is textured.  The second major aspect of the invention that has yet to surface in the market is replacing physical buttons on the remote with a flat surface that will still indicate functionality such volume or menu but use Apple's Force Touch feature to allow for multiple levels of functionality for the same button.


Jumping to the part of the patent about Force Touch, Apple notes that a remote control device that can be used with networked devices, such as computers, tablet computing devices, and video streaming media devices. One suitable non-limiting example of a networked device is a streaming media player. The remote control device includes an upper element having different frictionally engaging surfaces, including at least one textured surface and a second surface.


The at least one textured surface can receive user inputs, such as a touch and/or force input. A force sensing switch can be positioned in a housing of the remote control device and provide an analog input based on the amount of applied force.


According to Apple, "The force sensing switch can have multiple output states or signal levels based on the amount of force applied to the upper element." This is likely referring to the marketing term Apple uses to describe 3D Touch.


The amount of beam strain can vary depending on the amount of force applied to the input surface. The strain gauge(s) can measure the amount of beam strain, and a processing device operatively connected to the one or more strain gauges can determine the amount of force applied to the input surface based on a strain measurement received from at least one strain gauge.


The upper element can further include one or more input buttons. The input buttons can provide for a variety of user inputs, such as volume control, channel control, a home button, a select button, navigation buttons, pause or play buttons, and a device or mode button. The input buttons can be flush with the surface, can protrude or extend beyond the surface, can be recessed with respect to the surface, or a combination of both in that some input buttons are flush or recessed while other input buttons protrude.


Apple's patent FIG. 21 below is a block diagram of a self-capacitance sensing system that is suitable for use with the force sensing switch.  A processing device connected to the sense circuit can direct the sense circuit to scan, and can receive the measurement from the sense circuit and determine the amount of force applied to the input surface based on the measurement.


2 force sensing surface


With Apple's touch technologies (Force, 3D and Haptic) evolving over time, it is unknown at this point in time which Force technology Apple could eventually use in a future version of the Apple TV remote.


Apple's patent application 20190172341 that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was originally filed back in back on February 1, 2019 or roughly four months ago. However, the patent history shows that the original work goes back five years.  Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.


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