The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 66 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover another Force Touch invention that may provide future MacBooks with added dimensions to their current Force Touch feature set that could be very cool.
Granted Patent: Controlling a MacBook using Force Sensors
Apple's newly granted patent covers their invention relating to systems and methods for controlling electronic devices using force sensors. A plurality of force sensors may be configured such that they are operable to support one or more housings on one or more surfaces. When force is exerted on the housing, this force may be measured by the force sensors as force data. This force data may be interpreted (such as by one or more processing units) as at least one input for an electronic device.
Although Apple has integrated Force Touch into MacBooks already, there could still be more to come in the future by placing more sensors into the feet of the MacBook as noted below which could provide extra features or dimensions to Force Touch.
Apple notes that "when force data is received when a laptop is open and a user is currently active, the force data may be interpreted as directional and/or other navigational information. By comparing force data from the various force sensors, the location where force was exerted may be determined (as the detected force may be greater closer to where a user pressed down, and closer to a particular force sensor, and may be lesser further from where a user pressed down, and closer to a different force sensor). By comparing current force data with previous force data, movement of a touch across the electronic device may be determinable. In some cases, the force data may be interpreted similar to the arrow keys of a keyboard (such as pressure near the top of the laptop corresponds to an `up arrow` input and so on)
A MacBook Running Cool on your Lap
One of the cool features of this invention is described this way: force data may be received indicating that a laptop computer is on a lap as opposed to an even surface such as a table. Such force may not correspond to force exerted by a user, but the force may be interpreted as a command to engage a cooling mechanism of the laptop such that the laptop does not reach a temperature that is uncomfortable for a user's lap.
Controlling iTunes when the MacBook Lid is closed
In another example, Apple notes that the application may be a music player program and the instruction may include a command to alter the music currently being presented (such as fast forwarding the music, rewinding the music, speeding up the music, slowing down the music, and so on) via one or more speakers and/or other output devices and/or components. In such a case, a user may manipulate the music player program while the laptop is closed and the music player program is playing music by pressing on the top of the laptop.
This patent also discusses bringing force sensors to the MacBook and iMac displays and not just the touchpad even though Apple has publicly denied it would ever be available.
Apple's granted patent 9,329,685 was originally filed in Q1 2013 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
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