Apple Invents Finger-Mounted Accessory Systems for Modifying Finger Sensations during Finger Press Input Events
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to finger-mounted accessory devices primarily designed for use with Apple's future Head Mounted Device (HMD) as input-output devices. More specifically, the patent covers systems for modifying finger sensations during finger press input events.
Systems For Modifying Finger Sensations During Finger Press Input Events
A user may provide finger press input to a touch sensitive input surface or other input surface. The input surface may be formed from a two-dimensional touch sensor overlapping a display of an electronic device. The electronic device and associated equipment such as a finger-mounted device may form a system for gathering the finger press input from the user.
A sensor such as an optical proximity sensor or capacitive proximity sensor may be used in monitoring when the finger-mounted device and a user's finger in the device approach the input surface of the electronic device. In response to detection of motion of the finger towards the input surface, actuators in the finger-mounted device may squeeze the finger inwardly. This causes a finger pad portion of the finger to protrude outwardly towards the input surface, thereby softening impact between the finger and the input surface.
The electronic device may also have an array of components that repel the finger-mounted device and/or the finger in response to detection of the motion of the finger towards the input surface. These components may produce repulsive force using electrostatics, magnetic repulsion or attraction, ultrasonic output, and mechanical output.
The components may, as an example, include an array of electromagnetics overlapping the input surface that magnetically repel a component such as a permanent magnet in the finger-mounted device.
Apple's patent FIGS. 4, 5, and 6 below are diagrams showing how a finger may contact an input surface such as a touch sensitive input surface in an electronic device in a system; FIGS. 9, 10, and 11 are diagrams of illustrative examples of finger-mounted device styles or forms for a system.
Apple's patent FIG. 13 is a side view of yet another illustrative finger-mounted device style.
As shown in FIG. 14 above, device #26B may have an array of force-modifying components such as components #52B and device #26A may have one or more force-modifying components such as component #52A. Control circuitry #40A may control the operation of component #52A and control circuitry #40B may control the operation of components #52B (e.g., using control signal paths #54). In some arrangements, the operation of control circuitry #40A and the operation of control circuitry #40B may be coordinated (e.g., using wired or wireless communications).
A Few Technical Points
- An electronic device configured to be worn on a finger of a user as the finger is moved towards a surface, the finger having a fingertip with a fingernail, a finger pad, and side portions that extend from the fingernail toward the finger pad, the electronic device comprising: a body configured to be coupled to the finger, wherein the body has a movable portion; control circuitry; a plurality of vibrators coupled to the body that are configured to be selectively activated by the control circuitry to apply feedback to the finger; and a component that is configured to apply additional feedback to the finger by moving the movable portion toward the finger.
- The "component" referred to in the paragraph above is an actuator coupled to the body that is configured to apply the additional feedback to the side portions of the finger.
- The electronic device's actuator is selected from the group consisting of: an electromagnetic actuator, a motor, a piezoelectric actuator, an electroactive polymer actuator, a vibrator, a linear actuator, a rotational actuator, and an actuator that bends a bendable member.
- The electronic device's actuator is configured to move toward the finger to apply a force to the side portion of the finger.
- The electronic device further comprises: a proximity sensor on the body configured to detect proximity of the finger to the surface, wherein the plurality of vibrators is configured to apply the feedback in response to the detected proximity.
- The electronic device's proximity sensor is selected from the group consisting of: an optical proximity sensor and a capacitive proximity sensor.
- The electronic device's body is configured to be coupled to the fingertip, covering the fingernail and the side portions of that fingertip and leaving the finger pad of that fingertip exposed.
- The electronic device's plurality of vibrators extend across sides of the body and are configured to selectively apply feedback to the side portions of the finger.
For more details, review Apple's patent application # US 20230032396 A1. Apple's Paul X Wang, Senior Product Design Manager is the lead inventor listed on the patent.
Apple has been working on finger-mounted devices for HMDs since at least 2018. Another patent on finger-mounted devices was covered by Patently Apple in January 2020.