Apple Wins a Patent that will advance iPhone Haptics that will better control a nearby TV, Home Appliances & more
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to electronic devices that supply next-gen haptic output. The patent illustrates enhancements for their Apple TV remote app and ability to better find and control home appliances.
Apple notes that a user may have to take several steps to control or otherwise communicate with an external device. The user may not know when the external device is sufficiently close to establish a short-range wireless communications link. There may be multiple devices within range, making it challenging to select the appropriate external device.
In addition, touch-sensitive displays may be used to help a user communicate with other electronic devices, but requiring a user to interact with the display may not always be intuitive for the user.
Apple's granted patent covers an electronic device such as an iPhone that may be provided with wireless circuitry. The wireless circuitry may include one or more antennas. The antennas may include millimeter wave antenna arrays, ultra-wideband antennas, or other antennas. The antennas may also include wireless local area network antennas, satellite navigation system antennas, cellular telephone antennas, and other antennas. The wireless circuitry may be used to send signals to and/or receive signals from an external electronic device. The wireless circuitry may determine a location of the external electronic device relative to the electronic device based on a phase difference associated with the received antenna signals.
A future iPhone (electronic device) may include input-output devices that allow a user to more intuitively control or otherwise communicate with an external electronic device.
The input-output devices may include touch input components and associated haptic output components, which may be formed along the sidewalls or other areas of the electronic device.
The control circuitry may provide haptic output in response to touch input on the touch input components and may also send wireless signals to the external electronic device based on the touch input.
The haptic output components may provide local and global haptic output. Local haptic output may be used to guide a user to the location of the electronic device or to provide a button click sensation to the user in response to touch input. Global haptic output may be used to notify the user that their iPhone (electronic device) is aligned towards the external electronic device and is ready to receive user input to control or communicate with the external electronic device.
The touch input components may be configured to measure a force associated with touch input. Control circuitry may control the intensity of haptic output based on the force and/or may control the user input function associated with the touch input based on the force.
The control circuitry may gather information about the external electronic device and may control the input-output devices based on the information about the external electronic device. This may include assigning different user input functions to each touch sensor based on the capabilities of the external electronic device, activating some touch input components and inactivating other touch input components based on the capabilities of the external electronic device, and activating some haptic output components and inactivating other haptic output components based on the capabilities of the external electronic device.
Apple's patent FIGS. 18 and 19 below illustrates an iPhone that has new haptic areas and new touch side controls that are not physical buttons. Today's iPhone app for Apple TV Remote doesn't allow a user to control volume whereas in today's granted patent, it will one day along with controlling TV brightness, Apple Music track selection, TV channel selection and more.
FIG. 19 refers to #78 as a TV. In FIG. 18, an iPhone is shown used to control lighting. Apple will provide an "inactive" control to shut off haptics and touch input.
Like all Apple patents, they make it clear that their invention isn't limited to one device like an iPhone and in this case, Apple lists the following devices the invention could apply to some day:
"An embedded computer, a tablet computer, a cellular telephone, a media player, or other handheld or portable electronic device, a smaller device such as a wristwatch device, a pendant device, a headphone or earpiece device, a device embedded in eyeglasses or other equipment worn on a user's head, or other wearable or miniature device, a television, a computer display that does not contain an embedded computer, a gaming device, a navigation device, an embedded system such as a system in which electronic equipment with a display is mounted in a kiosk or automobile," and more.
For more details, review granted patent 11,119,574.