Apple Invention Describes using a Form of Force Touch that will allow users to navigate iDevices Underwater
In August 2019 Patently Apple posted a patent report titled "Apple's Work on iPhones that can Function Properly with Water on the Display or even Underwater Continues." Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that once again shows that Apple's engineering teams are adding more IP towards iDevices that could function underwater.
Apple's invention primarily describes systems, devices, methods and apparatus directed to determine an amount of force to a device or calibrating the sensors used to determine the amount of force, or adjusting the measurements obtained by one sensor using measurements obtained by another sensor.
In some embodiments, the amount of force applied to the device may be determined using a capacitive force sensor and/or a pressure sensor disposed within an interior volume of the device.
In some embodiments, the measurements obtained from the capacitive force sensor or pressure sensor may be selected or adjusted, for use in determining the amount of force applied to the device, using measurements obtained from another sensor or sensors (e.g., a barometric pressure sensor, a temperature sensor, or other sensors).
Apple's patent is complex and addresses many aspects related to force touch. Our report focuses on the part of the invention/patent that describes how a future idevice such as an Apple Watch, iPhone or iPad is capable of functioning under water, which most of the time Apple uses the phraseology "immersed in a fluid."
Specifically, Apple notes in patent point #5: "In particular, described systems, devices, methods, and apparatus may use a pressure sensor and one or more displacement sensors to determine where a user is touching a device when the device is used under water.
For example, in some embodiments, a device may include a display associated with a touch sensor. When the device is not immersed in water, the touch sensor may indicate a location of a user's touch with respect to the display, and a pressure sensor and/or displacement sensor(s) positioned within the device (e.g., under the display) may be used to determine an amount of force associated with the touch.
However, when the device is immersed in a fluid and the touch sensor becomes inoperable due to saturation of the touch sensor's pixels (e.g., a condition in which most or all of the touch sensor's pixels indicate the presence of a touch), measurements generated by the pressure sensor and displacement sensor(s) may be used to determine the location of a user's touch with respect to the display (e.g., instead of an output of the touch sensor).
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below illustrates an iPhone that is one of the main devices that could implement a new kind of force touch; FIG. 46 shows an example method of determining a location of a touch on a surface of a device when the device is immersed in a fluid.
One sidestep that was interesting in today's patent application was found under patent point #68 wherein Apple notes that "the techniques may in some cases be used to determine the location of a user's touch on a back, side, or non-display surface of the device.
Apple's patent application 20200064952 that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was filed back in Q3 2019. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
Some of the inventors listed on Apple's patent application include the following:
David Graff: Senior Sensor Physicist and Algorithm Engineer
Albert Lin: Engineering Manager
Benedict Drevniok: Sensor Design Engineer
Andrew Joyce: Hardware Engineer
Pavan Gupta: Hardware Engineer
Mo Li: Hardware Engineer