Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to their own future gaming controller for Apple TV or a possible Apple TV Pro device that will offer higher-end gaming.
The focus of the patent is the "thumbstick user input" that is shown in our cover graphic. Apple notes that a thumbstick user input device may include a housing and a shaft carried by the housing. The shaft may have an upper end extending outwardly beyond the housing for manipulation by a user's thumb and a lower end within the housing.
The thumbstick user input device may also include a plurality of sensors carried by the housing to sense movement of the shaft, and a first contact member within the housing. The thumbstick user input device may also include a spring coupled between the first contact member and the shaft to urge the first contact member and the shaft apart, and a motor carried at a bottom of the housing and having a rotatable output extending upwardly therefrom.
A second contact member may be coupled to the rotatable output and in contact with the first contact member to be selectively moveable in an upward or downward direction based upon motor rotation to set a compression of the spring and thereby set a return-to-center bias for the shaft while the upper end of the shaft is being manipulated by the user's thumb.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a schematic diagram of a game controller including a thumbstick user input device; FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of the internals of a thumbstick user input device; FIG. 6a is a schematic diagram of a portion of a thumbstick user input device including a removable thumb contact pad.
Further to FIG. 2, Apple notes that sensors (#41a, 41b) are carried by the housing (#31) to sense movement of the shaft (#32). The sensors may be position sensors, for example, to sense a position or relative motion of the shaft. There may be any number of sensors.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent 11,065,534.
A number of Apple veterans worked on this project as follows:
Josh Pong: Product Design Manager (11 years)
Min Kim: Manage Accessory Product Design Engineering Group (13 years)
Colin Abraham: Product Design Manager (8 years)
Other engineers include:
Xuan Liu: Product Design Engineer (5.5 years)
Caleb Flori: Product Design Engineer (2.5 years)