Over the weekend Patently Apple posted two patent application reports covering input systems in the form of finger gestures on a VR glove and devices including a ring for Apple's future Mixed Reality (MR) Headset. Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to another input device that Apple has been working on for their headset. The granted patent is titled " Interactive computing system and control device." It's the first time it has been published as an Apple patent.
Apple notes in their patent background that interactive computing systems, such as gaming consoles and simulators, receive user inputs with a physical control for controlling virtual objects. The virtual objects may, for example, include various types of virtual devices that resemble familiar physical devices and that are controllable by the user with the control device. For example, the user may use the physical control device to control characters in video games or flight controls in flight simulators.
Conventional control devices, however, often receive user inputs via physical interactions that are unfamiliar to the user as compared to the virtual device controlled thereby, and often provide no physical feedback or only unfamiliar physical feedback relative to the virtual device. For example, conventional control devices may be configured as a gaming controller having depressible buttons for controlling movement and actions of a virtual device. The physical action of depressing a button, however, may not be familiar to the user by not resembling physical behavior of the physical device resembled by the virtual device.
Apple's granted patent covers interactive computing systems and control devices that receive physical inputs and provide physical outputs (e.g., feedback or tactile feedback) for manipulating a virtual device. The physical outputs provided by the control device simulate or resemble physical behavior of a physical device simulated or resembled by the virtual device. As a result, the user may more intuitively control the virtual devices with the input device and may have a more immersive experience with the interactive computing system.
Further and more particularly, the control device physically mimics or resembles the physical interactions with tools or devices that are operated by biasing one portion of the tool toward and/or away from another portion of the tool. Such physical tools may, for example, be a type of handheld tool that is operated when grasped, compressed, and/or expanded by the user's hand(s), such as different types of grabbing devices (e.g., pliers, tongs, etc.), cutting devices (e.g., scissors, garden shears, etc.), and other devices or tools (e.g., staplers, nut crackers, etc.).
The control device receives user inputs by the user pressing together or pulling apart portions of the control device that are opposed to each other (e.g., by applying forces thereto and/or causing movement thereof).
The control device provides the user with physical outputs (e.g., tactile feedback) by causing movement between the portions, resisting movement between the portions, vibrating the portions, changing a center of gravity of the control device, or combinations thereof.
Such physical outputs may simulate physical characteristics (e.g., physical behavior) of the physical tool, such as compressibility, return force, friction, vibration characteristics, material properties, and center of gravity, among other characteristics.
Such outputs may also simulate physical characteristics of a physical object and behavior of the physical tool interacting with the physical object, such as compressibility of the object and friction between the physical device and the physical object.
For illustration purposes, the tactile feedback provided by the physical output of the control device may vary according to whether the resembled physical device is a pair of plastic scissors, metal scissors, or sprung garden shears.
Further, the plastic scissors, metal scissors, and sprung garden shears may each interact differently with different types of virtual subjects, such as when cutting paper, fabric, or a stick (e.g., having different movement/resistance representing the stiffness of the object, different vibration representing texture or friction as the object is cut, and different and/or moving centers of gravity as the object is lifted).
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a schematic view of an interactive computing system; FIG. 3 is a view of a display device of the interactive computing system displaying a virtual scene. FIG. 4 is a view of a control device of the interactive computing system of FIG. 1.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent 11,137,830