Apple's fourth generation MacBook Pro was announced on October 27, 2016. It replaced the function keys with an interactive, multi-touch "Touch Bar" and a Touch ID sensor integrated into the Power button as noted in our cover graphic. Apple was granted their first patent for the Touch Bar in November 2017 and a second granted patent in March 2018. Today Apple was granted their third patent for this invention with major patent claims added.
Apple's patent FIG. 1A noted above depicts a MacBook Pro incorporating a restricted-access button; FIG. 1B depicts a detail view of the region A-A depicted in FIG. 1A, showing an electronic device embodiment in which the restricted-access button extends proud of a surface of a housing of the electronic device; FIG. 1C depicts a detail view of the region A-A depicted in FIG. 1A, showing an electronic device embodiment in which the restricted-access button is flush with a surface of a housing of the electronic device; FIG. 2A depicts an exploded cross-section assembly view of the button assembly; and FIG. 6 depicts example operations of a method of operating a button that incorporates a biometric sensor.
The differences between one granted patent and another always resides in differing patent claims.
While there are many fine patent claim points in this granted patent that differ from previous granted patents, below are the three major patent claims that Apple has added to this invention in order to better protect this invention.
Patent Claim #1: "A portable electronic device comprising: a housing; a set of keys extending at least partially through at least one aperture defined by the housing; a touch-sensitive display disposed at least partially within an opening defined by the housing and along a side of the set of keys; and a power button disposed at least partially within the opening and abutting the touch-sensitive display, wherein: the power button is configured to capture a biometric input when a user of the portable electronic device presses the power button; and the power button is configured to depress in a cantilevered manner such that the power button does not transfer a load to the touch-sensitive display."
Patent Claim #12: "A button assembly for a laptop computing device, the button assembly comprising: a button cap comprising: a frame; a cover attached to the frame and forming an external surface of the button cap; a bumper extending from an edge of the frame and configured to pivot against a housing of the laptop computing device in response to a button press; a spring plate coupled to an interior surface of the housing below a through-hole in the housing, the spring plate coupled to a standoff extending from the button cap through the through-hole; and a biometric sensor coupled to a bottom surface of the cover."
Patent Claim #18: "A method of operating an electronic device, the method comprising: detecting one or more inputs to a button operable in: an unrestricted mode in which a first function of the electronic device is executed in response to each detected input to the button; and a restricted mode in which a second function of the electronic device, different from the first function, is executed in response to the each detected input to the button only if the each detected input is provided by one of a limited set of users; in response to the each detected input when the button is in the unrestricted mode, executing the first function after the each detected input; and in response to the each detected input when the button is in the restricted mode: obtaining biometric data from a biometric sensor positioned below the button; upon determining that the obtained biometric data matches template data associated with at least one user of the limited set of users, executing the second function; and upon determining that the obtained biometric data does not match any template data associated with the limited set of users, rejecting the input."
Apple's granted patent 10,089,512 was originally filed in Q3 2016 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
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