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Magic Mouse - Multi-Touch Mouse Intro 
The US Patent & Trademark Office has published a patent application from Apple today that reveals more of the in-depth technology behind Apple's all new Multi-Touch Magic Mouse. Technically, Apple's patent relates to touch sensor panels, and more particularly, to capacitive multi-touch sensor patterns and stack-ups in which both row and column traces may be formed on a single conducting surface. These stack-ups may be made thinner and more flexible allowing them to be particularly well-suited for curved or other non-flat touch sensor panels, such as those that might be present on a mouse or other device designed to be grasped by a user's hand. Apple's first Magic Mouse related patent surfaced in March 2008 and in this report you'll also hear about Jonathan Ive's take on the Magic Mouse.


Jonathan Ive on Apple's Magic Mouse


Jonathan Ive: When you first see the mouse, it could not be any simpler. But I love the way it scales from being something that is that apparently simple to actually being really remarkably sophisticated. I mean, we finally figured out how to take the multi-touch technology and implement it on a mouse. It's still a point and click mouse but now the entire top surface of the mouse is basically a multi-touch sensor.


Magic Mouse - Multi-Touch Mouse 
Apple Engineer: This is the smartest mouse that we've ever made. There's a chip inside that essentially acts as a brain. As you put your fingers on the top shell, it could determine where they're located, how many you have and through your gesture, your movement it can determine what your intent is.


Jonathan Ive: You could scroll anywhere on that top surface; you could swipe; it is incredibly intuitive. You could use it without thought, you know. It's just the way that you would expect it … the mouse should have always worked.   


Flex Circuit Portion


Apple's patent FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view of an exemplary double-sided ITO (DITO) substrate 500 (with its thickness greatly exaggerated for purposes of illustration only) with columns 502 and rows 508 formed on either side according to embodiments of this invention. Some of column ITO traces on the top side are routed to a necked-down connector area 504, where they are brought off the panel by a flex circuit portion 506 that can be conductively bonded to the top of DITO substrate. In some embodiments, row ITO traces on the bottom side can be connected to thin metal traces 510 that run alongside the edges of the bottom side.


Flex Circuit Portion FIGS. 5 & 6

Apple's patent FIG. 6 above illustrates an exemplary flex circuit 600 including flex circuit portions 606 and 614 for connecting to the row and column traces, respectively, on either side of a DITO substrate, and flex circuit portion 608 for connecting to a host processor. The Flex circuit includes a circuit area 602 upon which the multi-touch subsystem, multi-touch panel processor, the high voltage driver and decoder circuitry (see FIG. 1), an EEPROM and some essential small components such as bypass capacitors can be mounted and connected to save space.


A First Conducting Layer of a Touch Sensor Array Adhered to a Curved Surface


Apple's patent FIG. 16A shown below is an embodiment of a first conducting layer 1600 of a touch sensor array that may be adhered to a curved surface. The touch sensor pattern shown in FIG. 16A includes touch sensor row elements 1606, 1608, and 1610.


Conducting Layer Touch Sensor Array on Curved Surface

In another embodiment, the touch sensor array can be formed on a thermal plastic substrate material that can be reformed with heat. In this configuration the touch sensor array may be draped across a mold and then heated to form a curved touch sensor array shape. Alternatively, the substrate may be vacuum formed inside a cavity. The traces in the array, which may for example be made out of copper, may be made flexible enough to withstand this type of reshaping.


The curved or 3-d shaped touch sensor patterns may be placed under or over a curved substrate, for example, a glass or plastic cover. These touch sensors patterns can be used in a variety of multi-touch devices, for example a multi-touch mouse, a personal computer touch pad, a media player, or mobile telephone.


Apple credits Brett William Degner, Kenneth Lawrence Staton, Steve Hotelling and Shin John Choi as the inventors of patent application 20090273570.   


Update: It should be noted that the Magic Mouse fulfills Apple's patent for a multi-touch mouse published in June 2008.


Notice: Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of patents with associated graphic(s) for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application and/or grant is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application and/or grant should be read in its entirety for further details. For additional information on any patent reviewed here today, simply feed the individual patent number noted above into this search engine. To read this report in another major language, use Yahoo! Babel Fish



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