The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 69 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover two granted patents. The first covers a possible next-gen keyboard architecture based on light sensors instead of mechanical keys like the Magic Keyboard. The second patent covers Apple's AR 'Measure' app.
Patent #1: Optical Keyboard
Although Apple has gone all out to promote their Magic Keyboard and abandon the Butterfly keyboard, longer term Apple is preparing for a possible move to an all-new keyboard optical based architecture using light sensors.
In accordance with some aspects of Apple's invention, a key such as an electronic input key of a keyboard may be provided with a keycap and a light sensor that detects changes in an amount of received light caused by a motion of the keycap when a user presses the key.
The light source may also provide a backlighting function for the key to illuminate one or more portions of the key for a user. A key having a light sensor may provide improved coordination of the electronic effect of the key with the physical feeling of key compression for the user, may facilitate additional key functionality in comparison with a key based on an electrical make, and/or may facilitate other functional and/or aesthetic benefits in comparison with a key based on an electrical make.
Apple's patent FIGS. 1 and 2 below illustrate the targeted keyboards that could use a next generation keyboard where keys use light sensor instead of mechanical mechanisms to trigger a response on screen; FIG. 5 represents a top view of an example switch housing of a key.
Apple's Patent FIG. 11 above illustrates a schematic cross-sectional side-view diagram of a key having a keycap with a light pipe structure FIG. 12 is the same key but compressed when a user hits the key; FIG. 20 illustrates a flow chart of an example process for obtaining user input with a key having a light sensor.
Apple's granted patent 10,613,640 was originally filed in Q3 2019 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Apple was also granted another keyboard related patent today tilted "Electronic devices having backlit keyboards displays with adjustable white points," that you could review here.
Patent #2: AR 'Measure' App
Apple has been granted their second patent for their AR 'Measure App in the last year. Apple's patent relates to electronic devices for virtual/augmented reality, including but not limited to electronic devices for measuring physical spaces and/or objects using virtual/augmented reality environments. While the invention technically covers Apple's iOS "Measuring" app, it also covers how furniture could be rearranged in a room with accurate measurements in 3D augmented reality space.
Apple notes that Augmented Reality environments are useful for making measurements of physical spaces and objects therein, by providing a view of the physical space and enabling a user to superimpose measurements on the physical space and objects therein.
Apple's granted patent 10,612,908 was originally posted as a patent application in Q4 2019 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office.