Apple patent is for disappearing buttons
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Apple patent is for disappearing buttons

Apple -- or at least CEO Steve Jobs -- probably won't be happy until we can control our Macs, iPhones, iPods and iPads complete by brain waves. A new patent (20200103116) is for a disappearing button or slider and shows Apple's continued war to eliminate buttons on its devices.

An input device is disclosed. The input is a deflection based capacitive sensing input. Deflection of a metal fame of the input device causes a change in capacitance that is used to control a function of an electrical device. The input appears invisible because it is made of the same material as the housing it is contained in. Invisible backlit holes may make the input selectively visible or invisible to the user. The inventors are Omar S. Leung and David T. Amm.

Here's Apple's summary and background of the invention: "The present invention relates generally to input devices and device display systems, and more particularly to invisible input systems and device display systems. The input devices and display systems may become visible when illuminated from behind through invisible holes.

"In the world of consumer devices, and particularly consumer electronics, there is an ever-present demand for improved appearance, improved functionality, and improved aesthetics. Industrial design has become a highly skilled profession that focuses on fulfilling this need for enhanced consumer product appearance, functionality, and aesthetics.

"One area that receives attention for improvement, particularly in consumer electronics, is user input and interface. Presently there exists a range of mechanically actuated (e.g., buttons, switches, levers, keys, keyboards, dials, click wheels, scroll wheels, and the like) or electrically actuated (e.g., touch pads, track pads, touch screens, multi-touch screens, and the like) input devices. These input devices interface with their associated electronic devices (e.g., computers, laptop computers, media devices, mobile phones, calculators, medical devices, etc. . . . ) in order to control a function of the device, for example, turn the device on or off, open a menu, move a cursor and so forth.

"One challenge with these known input devices is that they may detract from the aesthetics of the device by interrupting the continuity of the device housing. To illustrate, compare a mobile phone having a traditional key pad with the iPhone produced by Apple Inc. of Cupertino, Calif. The iPhone has a flat touch-sensitive screen which presents a striking, seamless design, while the traditional mobile phone presents a cluttered array of keys and buttons. Besides the obvious aesthetic advantages of having a seamless design, a seamless design may have improved functionality and/or durability. For example, a traditional mechanical key pad can wear out over time and/or be ruined by dirt or moisture entering into the openings in the device housing. These openings are necessary to accommodate the traditional keys and buttons.

"The iPhone touch screen uses capacitive sensing. This type of sensing takes advantage of the fact that two electrical fields separated by a dielectric produce capacitance. In the iPhone, a first electrical field is produced inside the iPhone by an array of electrodes. The second electrical field is provided by the user's finger. When the finger interacts with the glass touch surface a circuit inside the iPhone detects a change in capacitance and processes this change in order to compute, for example, the location and speed of the scrolling finger. Some modern track pads on laptop computers may function in a similar way, but normally have plastic or rubber track surfaces. In all of these devices the housing of the device is normally metal, while the track surface is normally a dielectric material such as rubber, plastic, or glass. Therefore, a truly seamless design has been impossible. Furthermore, a glass surface may be fragile.

"Taken to its extreme, seamless design would have an invisible input. Since a metal housing is advantageous for aesthetic, environmental, and manufacturing reasons, this presents a particular challenge. One method to overcome this challenge is to include a plastic input painted to look like metal. However, this will not match the metal look and finish exactly, so the truly seamless design is not realized.

"Another area that continually receives great attention for improvement is user displays. Providing crisp, attractive, unambiguous, and intuitively friendly displays and information for the user is very important in many consumer products. However, as consumer products constantly become smaller and smaller, and in some cases more and more complex, it becomes increasingly difficult to present and display user information in a manner that is easy for the user to grasp and understand, but is also in an uncluttered form and appearance that is aesthetically pleasing.

"Much of the aesthetic appeal of a consumer product can quickly be compromised if there are too many display elements, or if too much display area is occupied by display elements that are not needed except at particular times. When not needed, these ???passive??? or unactivated display elements invariably remain visible to the user, even though they are in the ???off??? state. This is not only displeasing from an aesthetic standpoint, but it can be an annoying distraction that interferes with detection and understanding of other display elements that need to be observed at a given moment.

"Illuminating display elements is known. Some display elements are illuminated continuously; others are illuminated only when appropriate to instruct and guide the user. Display elements that are not continuously illuminated can still be distracting, or at least aesthetically objectionable, when not illuminated (when in the off state) because they may still remain visible in the display area.

"For example, one typical such display element is configured from transparent plastic inserts that penetrate through the metallic case of an electronic device, and are smoothly flush with the outer surface of the case. A large number of such always-visible display elements leads to a cluttered, confusing, and unattractive appearance. In fact, even a single such element, when not illuminated (i.e., in an inactive state), can become an unattractive distraction on an otherwise smooth and attractive surface.

"Less expensive device housings, for example, those made of opaque plastic rather than metal, are often similarly provided with transparent plastic inserts for illuminated display elements. These display elements also conflict with a good aesthetic appearance when they are not illuminated. Also, displays using plastic or glass are less durable than metal and are more subject to breaking or cracking.

"Additionally, the separate visible inserts utilized by prior techniques sometimes do not fit perfectly in the holes in which they are inserted or formed. Such imperfect fit can invite entry of liquids, dirt, and the like, undesirably causing yet another disadvantage.

"Thus, the need exists for commercially feasible device display systems with improved aesthetics that unobtrusively furnish information as appropriate, but otherwise do not distract or detract from the user's experience or the device's performance. Preferably, selected elements of such display systems would additionally become invisible in their off states.

"In view of ever-increasing commercial competitive pressures, increasing consumer expectations, and diminishing opportunities for meaningful product differentiation in the marketplace, it is increasingly critical that answers be found to these challenges. Moreover, the ever-increasing need to save costs, improve efficiencies, improve performance, and meet such competitive pressures adds even greater urgency to the critical necessity that answers be found.

"The invention relates in one embodiment an electronic device having an invisible input. The device has a frame having a top face with invisible holes formed therein. A capacitor reference is on an inner surface of the top face in the area of the invisible holes. An interior wall is separated from the top face and forms an interior space having a dielectric medium disposed therein. A capacitor plate is disposed on a surface of the interior wall opposite the first capacitor plate. A light source is disposed in the interior space and is configured to shine through the invisible holes. A capacitor sensor is electrically connected to the capacitive reference and the capacitor plate. When an object is placed on the frame in the area of the invisible holes and pressure is applied, the frame deforms. This deformation causes a change in capacitance between the capacitive reference and the capacitor plate. The capacitor sensor detects this change and converts it to an electrical signal.

"The invention relates in another embodiment to an invisible input. The invisible input has a frame having a top face with invisible holes formed therein. A capacitor reference is on an inner surface of the top face in the area of the invisible holes. An interior wall is separated from the top face and forms an interior space having a dielectric medium disposed therein. A capacitor plate is disposed on a surface of the interior wall opposite the first capacitor plate. A light source is disposed in the interior space and is configured to shine through the invisible holes. A capacitor sensor is electrically connected to the capacitive reference and the capacitor plate. When an object is placed on the frame in the area of the invisible holes and pressure is applied, the frame deforms. This deformation causes a change in capacitance between the capacitive reference and the capacitor plate. The capacitor sensor detects this change and converts it to an electrical signal."

 
AAPL
$97.31
Apple Inc.
+2.59
MSFT
$44.87
Microsoft Corpora
+0.04
GOOG
$597.04
Google Inc.
+2.30

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Firefox 31.0 - Fast, safe Web browser. (...
Firefox for Mac offers a fast, safe Web browsing experience. Browse quickly, securely, and effortlessly. With its industry-leading features, Firefox is the choice of Web development professionals... Read more
Little Snitch 3.3.3 - Alerts you to outg...
Little Snitch gives you control over your private outgoing data. Track background activityAs soon as your computer connects to the Internet, applications often have permission to send any... Read more
Thunderbird 31.0 - Email client from Moz...
As of July 2012, Thunderbird has transitioned to a new governance model, with new features being developed by the broader free software and open source community, and security fixes and improvements... Read more
Together 3.2 - Store and organize all of...
Together helps you organize your Mac, giving you the ability to store, edit and preview your files in a single clean, uncluttered interface. Smart storage. With simple drag-and-drop functionality,... Read more
Cyberduck 4.5 - FTP and SFTP browser. (F...
Cyberduck is a robust FTP/FTP-TLS/SFTP browser for the Mac whose lack of visual clutter and cleverly intuitive features make it easy to use. Support for external editors and system technologies such... Read more
iExplorer 3.4 - View and transfer all th...
iExplorer is an iPhone browser for Mac lets you view the files on your iOS device. By using a drag and drop interface, you can quickly copy files and folders between your Mac and your iPhone or... Read more
Airmail 1.4 - Powerful, minimal email cl...
Airmail is a powerful, minimal mail client.It was designed to retain the same experience with a single or multiple accounts and provide a quick, modern and easy-to-use user experience. Airmail... Read more
Macs Fan Control 1.1.12 - Monitor and co...
Macs Fan Control allows you to monitor and control almost any aspect of your computer's fans, with support for controlling fan speed, temperature sensors pane, menu-bar icon, and autostart with... Read more
A Better Finder Rename 9.37 - File, phot...
A Better Finder Rename is the most complete renaming solution available on the market today. That's why, since 1996, tens of thousands of hobbyists, professionals and businesses depend on A Better... Read more
MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update 2.9 - Fo...
MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update is recommended for MacBook Air (Mid 2011) models. This update addresses an issue where systems may take longer to wake from sleep than expected and fixes a rare issue... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Ex-Angry Birds Developers Release Monsu...
Ex-Angry Birds Developers Release Monsu Teaser Trailer Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 23rd, 2014 [ permalink ] Finnish developer Boomlagoon has released a teaser trailer of their forthcoming side-scrolling action platformer, | Read more »
Lots of New Modes Have Been Added to Can...
Lots of New Modes Have Been Added to Canabalt Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 23rd, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Stronghold 3: The Campaigns Review
Stronghold 3: The Campaigns Review By Jennifer Allen on July 23rd, 2014 Our Rating: :: DULL STRATEGIZINGiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad A cumbersome strategy game, Stronghold 3: The Campaigns has a few too many issues to... | Read more »
Table Tennis Touch on Sale for a Limited...
Table Tennis Touch on Sale for a Limited Time Posted by Jessica Fisher on July 23rd, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Secret Files Tunguska Review
Secret Files Tunguska Review By Jennifer Allen on July 23rd, 2014 Our Rating: :: CONSPIRACY-LITTERED ADVENTURINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Offering traditional adventuring with no fear of in-app purchases, Secret... | Read more »
Celebrate Summer With a Cat in the Hat L...
Celebrate Summer With a Cat in the Hat Learning Library Sale Posted by Ellis Spice on July 22nd, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Dragon Raiders Review
Dragon Raiders Review By Nadia Oxford on July 22nd, 2014 Our Rating: :: RUN, DRAGON, RUNUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Dragon Raiders is rough and scaly in some parts, but overall it’s an enjoyable level-based running... | Read more »
MyTaskList Review
MyTaskList Review By Jennifer Allen on July 22nd, 2014 Our Rating: :: EFFECTIVE IF PLAINUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad It’s not the most stylish of task management apps, but MyTaskList has all the features you could... | Read more »
FlyCraft Herbie: Crazy Machines Review
FlyCraft Herbie: Crazy Machines Review By Jennifer Allen on July 22nd, 2014 Our Rating: :: TRICKY FLYINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad A tough game of careful thrusting and navigation, FlyCraft Herbie: Crazy Machines... | Read more »
MTN Review
MTN Review By Jessica Fisher on July 22nd, 2014 Our Rating: :: ADORABLE, SERENE, AND AMUSINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad MTN is an adorable, talking pet mountain that is less game and more zen garden.   | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

With The Apple/IBM Alliance, Is The iPad Now...
Almost since the iPad was rolled out in 2010, and especially after Apple made a 128 GB storage configuration available in 2012, there’s been debate over whether the iPad is a serious tool for... Read more
MacBook Airs on sale starting at $799, free s...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 MacBook Airs on sale for up to $100 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. They also include free copies of Parallels... Read more
Apple 27″ Thunderbolt Display (refurbished) a...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 27″ Thunderbolt Displays available for $799 including free shipping. That’s $200 off the cost of new models. Read more
WaterField Designs Unveils Cycling Ride Pouch...
High end computer case and bag maker WaterField Designs of San Francisco now enters the cycling market with the introduction of the Cycling Ride Pouch – an upscale toolkit with a scratch-free iPhone... Read more
Kingston Digital Ships Large Capacity Near 1T...
Kingston Digital, Inc., the Flash memory affiliate of Kingston Technology Company, Inc.,has announced its latest addition to the SSDNow V300 series, the V310. The Kingston SSDNow V310 solid-state... Read more
Apple’s Fiscal Third Quarter Results; Record...
Apple has announced financial results for its fiscal 2014 third quarter ended June 28, 2014, racking up quarterly revenue of $37.4 billion and quarterly net profit of $7.7 billion, or $1.28 per... Read more
15-inch 2.0GHz MacBook Pro Retina on sale for...
B&H Photo has the 15″ 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1829 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $170 off MSRP. B&H will also include free copies of Parallels... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished Mac minis for up t...
The Apple Store has restocked Apple Certified Refurbished Mac minis for up to $150 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 2.5GHz Mac... Read more
Twelve South HiRise For MacBook – Height-Adju...
If you use your MacBook as a workhorse desktop substitute, as many of us do, a laptop stand combined with an external keyboard and pointing device are pretty much obligatory if you want to avoid... Read more
Why The Mac Was Not Included In The Apple/IBM...
TUAW’s Yoni Heisler cites Fredrick Paul of Network World whoi blogged last week that the Mac’s conspicuous absence from Apple and IBM’s landmark partnership agreement represents a huge squandered... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
Sr. Product Leader, *Apple* Store Apps - Ap...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring Read more
Sr Software Lead Engineer, *Apple* Online S...
Sr Software Lead Engineer, Apple Online Store Publishing Systems Keywords: Company: Apple Job Code: E3PCAK8MgYYkw Location (City or ZIP): Santa Clara Status: Full Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.