Apple has Won a Patent for their iPad Pro 'Hover' Feature that could expand to the iPhone & Touch Screen Macs in the Future
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to the 'Hover" feature for iPad Pro that could eventually expand to the iPhone and Macs. The video snippet below from ZY Cheng illustrates the value that this feature brings to the iPad for Pro users.
Overall, Apple's granted patent relates to systems and methods of improving detection sensitivity of touch sensor panels that are operating in mutual capacitance mode, such as to detect proximity (e.g., hover) events, for example. In some examples, a touch sensor panel can be arranged in rows and columns of touch electrodes. In a mutual capacitance sensing mode, the intersection of the rows or columns form a capacitance that can be measured by a touch sensing circuit.
In some examples, the rows and/or columns can be driven by a known drive signal and other rows and/or columns can be sensed to determine the capacitance at the respective intersections. When an object such as a finger or stylus approaches and/or contacts the touch sensor panel, the capacitance at respective intersections changes due to the object's interference with the electromagnetic fields between the touch electrodes.
In some examples, multiple rows and/or columns can be driven simultaneously (optionally with the same drive signal) to increase the field penetration of the generated electromagnetic fields.
In some examples, the sensed change in capacitance due to the object's interaction with the touch sensor panel can be small relative to the overall capacitance formed by the intersection of the touch electrodes. In some examples, an offset signal can be injected into touch sensing circuits to offset baseline capacitance.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 below illustrates a block diagram of an example computing system that can implement touch sensing (e.g., hover sensing). Computing system #200 could be included in, for example, mobile telephone (iPhone), personal computers (touch-screen Macs), tablet computing device, wearable device (Apple Watch), or any mobile or non-mobile computing device that includes a touch screen.
Computing system #200 can include an integrated touch screen #220 to display images and to detect touch and/or proximity (e.g., hover) events from an object (e.g., finger #203 or active or passive stylus #205/Apple Pencil) at or proximate to the surface of the touch screen.
This is a highly technical patent. To dive deeper into the finer details, review Apple's granted patent 11662867.
You could review the full video on the hover feature from ZY Cheng here.
- Christopher Krah: Senior HW Engineer
- Jesse Devine: Engineering Manager
- Xiaoqi Zhou: Hardware Engineer