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Apple Invents a MacBook with Discrete Haptic Regions set into the Palm Rest Area that allows the Trackpad to become Invisible

1 x cover macbook with multiple discrete haptic zones

 

Over the years Apple has filed for patents that would reinvent the trackpad area of MacBooks (01, 02, 03 & 04) in both simple and sophisticated ways. In 2016 Patently Apple posted a patent application report titled "Apple is Focusing on a Game Changing Notebook Design." As illustrated below, patent FIG. 1A from the 2016 patent showed a reconfigurable MacBook with force-sensitive input structures; In FIG. 11 you could see a user being able to configure a numeric pad into the palm reset area instead of it being part of the keyboard layout. As you could also see in patent FIG. 1A is that the palm rest area could be distinctly broken down into three customizable zones.

 

2 patent figs 2016 examples

 

In today's newly published patent application, Apple's MacBook engineering team is at it once again. This time around they envision up to three discrete haptic zones that could be utilized under the keyboard area.

 

In embodiments, the local haptic actuators can enhance a user's experience by providing spatially localized haptic outputs to signal alerts and/or notifications to the user. It should be appreciated that multiple haptic outputs may be provided simultaneously to alert a user to multiple notifications, statuses, or the like, as well.

 

For example, spatially localized haptic output may function as notifications or alerts, thereby conveying information related to any or all of a system status, system operation, software cues, and so on.

 

Another example is that a haptic output could provide a tactile effect to one or more fingers, or a palm of the user positioned on the palm rest area of the input area when the electronic device enters a low power state.

 

Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a system diagram illustrating certain components of a sample embodiment; FIG. 3 illustrates a user interacting with a haptic input surface of a future MacBook.

 

3 Apple patent figs 1 & 3 haptic areas of a MacBook

 

Apple's patent FIG. 4 illustrates a user receiving a haptic output in a palm rest area of the MacBook of FIG. 3; FIG. FIGS. 5A to 5D illustrate first, second, third and fourth sample layouts of haptic actuators in an input area of a MacBook.

 

4 x APPLE DISCRETE HAPTIC REGIONS

 

Apple's patent FIG. 12 illustrates an interior of a top case of a MacBook; FIG. 11 is a cross-section view of a further sample haptic actuator.

 

5 x APPLE DISCRETE HAPTIC REGIONS PATENT figs. 12  6a  6b  11

 

Apple's patent FIG. 6A above is a cross-section view illustrating a haptic actuator at rest; FIG. 6B is a cross-section view illustrating the haptic actuator of FIG. 6A forming a protrusion on a top case of a MacBook; FIG. 6C is a cross-section view illustrating the haptic actuator of FIG. 6A forming a recess on a top case of a laptop computing device.

 

Apple further notes that an entirety of the haptic I/O area may both accept input and provide tactile output. Thus, a user may touch or exert force at a point on the haptic I/O area and receive haptic output at that same point.

 

In some embodiments, the top case of the MacBook may have a smooth and unbroken outer surface in and around the input area/trackpad unlike the current MacBook trackpad that is seen as an insert into the housing.

 

Apple's patent application 20200004337 that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was filed back in Q1 2019. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.

 

Apple Inventors

 

Denis Endisch: Product Design, Architecture | Characterization, Test Automation, Reliability Systems

Alex Lehmann: Product Design Engineer, Finite Element Analyst

Dinesh Mathew: director of product design

Keith Hendren: Product Designer

Bryan Posner: Product Designer

 

10.51FX - Patent Application Bar

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