Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to possible future controller devices that could provide a user with multiple modes of operation. For example, the user can hold and operate the controller device in a first orientation for controlling an Apple TV box or hold it in a different configuration for playing video games.
Apple's granted patent is a first look at an invention relating to a controller device that can be used with networked devices, such as computers, tablet computing devices, video streaming media player devices, and/or gaming devices.
The controller device includes a base element having surfaces for a user to operate and provide inputs. The inputs can include touch and/or force input. One or more force sensing switches can be positioned in a housing of the controller device and provide a signal based on the presence and/or amount of an applied force.
For example, a base element of the controller device can include one or more buttons. The buttons can provide for a variety of user inputs, such as volume control, channel control, a home button, a select button, navigation buttons, pause or play buttons, and a device or mode button.
The same or different buttons can also be used to provide other user inputs, such as directional controls and/or action controls that correspond to activities that are to be performed within a game or other program of the electronic device receiving commands based on the inputs.
The described controller devices can provide a user with multiple modes of operation. For example, the user can hold and operate the controller device in a first orientation for control of a first device and/or first mode of a device (e.g., media player/Apple TV box), and the user can hold and operate the controller device in a second orientation for control of a second device and/or second mode of a device (e.g., gaming device).
Features can be selectively stowed and deployed to facilitate user operation in the different modes. By further example, a controller device can be separated into segments to allow multiple users to hold and provide inputs with corresponding segments.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below illustrates a perspective view of a controller device; FIG. 4, the controller device #100 can be separable into distinct (e.g., front and rear) segments to provide multiple users with input capabilities. As shown in FIG. 4, each of the front segment #10 and the rear segment #40 are separable from each other, each providing one or more features; FIG. 5, the controller device #100 can be separable into distinct lateral (e.g., left and right) segments to provide multiple users with input capabilities.
In Apple's patent FIG. 10 above, one or more input members #910 can transition to a deployed configuration in which they extend from the housing #110 (e.g., the sidewalls). Accordingly, the input members can be rotatably (e.g., by a hinge) coupled to the housing #110 to facilitate rotation with respect to the housing from the stowed configuration (e.g., within a recess of the housing) to the deployed configuration (e.g., extending beyond the housing). The input members can be readily accessible by fingers of the user while the controller device #100 is held across both hands of the user.
The input members can be stowed so that they are entirely within (e.g., flush with) a boundary defined by an outer periphery of the housing (e.g., the sidewalls). For example, the input members can optionally be arranged in the stowed configuration such that no portion of the input members extend outwardly beyond the boundary defined by the housing.
In the stowed configuration, the input members may be less accessible by a user by not protruding from the housing. While hinge-based rotation is illustrated, it will be understood that other mechanisms can be used to deploy the input members include sliding, expanding, unfolding, unrolling, and the like.
Apple's patent FIG. 11 above is an input member #930 (e.g., joystick) that can transition to a deployed configuration in which it extends from the front side of the controller device; FIG. 12 is an alternative joystick design; FIG. 13, the controller device 100 can be provided with adjustable segments that rotate or otherwise move relative to each other; FIGS. 14-16, the controller device 100 can be provided with foldable segments that rotate or otherwise move relative to each other.
Lastly, Apple notes that the controller may be an accessory for Vision Pro that is worn on a head of the user to provide visual, audio, and/or tactile output to the user. The head-mountable device can further receive inputs from the user. At least some of the inputs can be provided via the controller device #100 and communicated to the head-mountable device.
The head-mountable device can thereby be operated to allow a user to provide inputs in a manner that allows the user to interact with a visual output displayed by the head-mountable device. Such visual output can include information and features overlaid with a view of a physical environment.