Apple Considers using a Digital Crown Mechanism for iPad
Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals that Jony Ive and his team have considered expanding the Apple Watch's digital crown to other iOS devices such as the iPad. Apple notes that the digital crown could be used as a volume controller or locking the touch screen, turning on the touch screen, taking a picture, resizing text and other actions.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 noted below illustrates an expanded view of an exemplary device #200 such as an iPad, though it could be an iPhone or iPod touch as well. The device could include touch screen surrounded by border region #208. The border region could be a region between touch screen #206 and the edge of device. In some examples, the device may not have a border region and may instead have a surface composed only of touch screen.
The device could also include mechanical inputs such as button #202, slide switch #203 and rotary input #204.
In Apple's patent FIG. 6C noted above we're able to see a cross-section of an exemplary rotary input #606 according to examples of this disclosure. The rotary input could rotate around axis #610. Rotary input could include one or more extensions #608 around its periphery; in this case, the rotary input can include four extensions. The rotary input could provide tactile feedback or response that may feel like clicking.
In a secondary patent filing published today by the U.S. Patent Office titled "Generator Button for Electronic Devices" we learn that "In some waterproof button designs that include user feedback, such as those that use an elastomeric seal between the button and a tactile switch, the elastomeric seal may be compressed between the tactile switch and the button cap. These designs may reduce the tactile feedback or click feel to a user. For example, the elastomeric seal positioned between the tactile switch and the button may have a dampened or "squishy" feel. On the contrary, the induction button may provide a feedback force through magnetic interaction between the coil and the magnetic element and so the seal may not substantially dampen or affect the feedback feel of the input button." The design applied to the digital crown of the Apple Watch or an iOS device. You could learn more about this secondary patent here.
Apple patent application 20160216801 was originally filed in Q1 2014. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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