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
$111.78
Apple Inc.
-0.87
MSFT
$47.66
Microsoft Corpora
+0.14
GOOG
$516.35
Google Inc.
+5.25

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

calibre 2.13 - Complete e-library manage...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital librarian... Read more
Mellel 3.3.7 - Powerful word processor w...
Mellel is the leading word processor for OS X and has been widely considered the industry standard since its inception. Mellel focuses on writers and scholars for technical writing and multilingual... Read more
ScreenFlow 5.0.1 - Create screen recordi...
Save 10% with the exclusive MacUpdate coupon code: AFMacUpdate10 Buy now! ScreenFlow is powerful, easy-to-use screencasting software for the Mac. With ScreenFlow you can record the contents of your... Read more
Simon 4.0 - Monitor changes and crashes...
Simon monitors websites and alerts you of crashes and changes. Select pages to monitor, choose your alert options, and customize your settings. Simon does the rest. Keep a watchful eye on your... Read more
BBEdit 11.0.2 - Powerful text and HTML e...
BBEdit is the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Mac. Specifically crafted in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers, this award-winning product provides a... Read more
ExpanDrive 4.2.1 - Access cloud storage...
ExpanDrive builds cloud storage in every application, acts just like a USB drive plugged into your Mac. With ExpanDrive, you can securely access any remote file server directly from the Finder or... Read more
Adobe After Effects CC 2014 13.2 - Creat...
After Effects CC 2014 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous After Effects customer). After Effects CS6 is still available... Read more
Evernote 6.0.5 - Create searchable notes...
Evernote allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at anytime, from... Read more
Command-C 1.1.7 - Clipboard sharing tool...
Command-C is a revolutionary app which makes easy to share your clipboard between iOS and OS X using your local WiFi network, even if the app is not currently opened. Copy anything (text, pictures,... Read more
Tidy Up 4.0.2 - Find duplicate files and...
Tidy Up is a complete duplicate finder and disk-tidiness utility. With Tidy Up you can search for duplicate files and packages by the owner application, content, type, creator, extension, time... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Make your own Tribez Figures (and More)...
Make your own Tribez Figures (and More) with Toyze Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
So Many Holiday iOS Sales Oh My Goodness...
The holiday season is in full-swing, which means a whole lot of iOS apps and games are going on sale. A bunch already have, in fact. Naturally this means we’re putting together a hand-picked list of the best discounts and sales we can find in order... | Read more »
It’s Bird vs. Bird in the New PvP Mode f...
It’s Bird vs. Bird in the New PvP Mode for Angry Birds Epic Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Telltale Games and Mojang Announce Minec...
Telltale Games and Mojang Announce Minecraft: Story Mode – A Telltale Games Series Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
WarChest and Splash Damage Annouce Their...
WarChest and Splash Damage Annouce Their New Game: Tempo Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] WarChest Ltd and Splash Damage Ltd are teaming up again to work | Read more »
BulkyPix Celebrates its 6th Anniversary...
BulkyPix Celebrates its 6th Anniversary with a Bunch of Free Games Posted by Jessica Fisher on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] BulkyPix has | Read more »
Indulge in Japanese cuisine in Cooking F...
Indulge in Japanese cuisine in Cooking Fever’s new sushi-themed update Posted by Simon Reed on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] Lithuanian developer Nordcurrent has yet again updated its restaurant simulat | Read more »
Badland Daydream Level Pack Arrives to C...
Badland Daydream Level Pack Arrives to Celebrate 20 Million Downloads Posted by Ellis Spice on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Desti...
Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed Unity, Destiny, and Beyond – AppSpy Takes a Look at AAA Companion Apps Posted by Rob Rich on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] These day | Read more »
A Bunch of Halfbrick Games Are Going Fre...
A Bunch of Halfbrick Games Are Going Free for the Holidays Posted by Ellis Spice on December 19th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

The Apple Store offering free next-day shippi...
The Apple Store is now offering free next-day shipping on all in stock items if ordered before 12/23/14 at 10:00am PT. Local store pickup is also available within an hour of ordering for any in stock... Read more
It’s 1992 Again At Sony Pictures, Except For...
Techcrunch’s John Biggs interviewed a Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) employee, who quite understandably wished to remain anonymous, regarding post-hack conditions in SPE’s L.A office, explaining “... Read more
Holiday sales this weekend: MacBook Pros for...
 B&H Photo has new MacBook Pros on sale for up to $300 off MSRP as part of their Holiday pricing. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1699... Read more
Holiday sales this weekend: MacBook Airs for...
B&H Photo has 2014 MacBook Airs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP, for a limited time, for the Thanksgiving/Christmas Holiday shopping season. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax... Read more
Holiday sales this weekend: iMacs for up to $...
B&H Photo has 21″ and 27″ iMacs on sale for up to $200 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. B&H will also include a free copy of Parallels Desktop software: - 21″ 1.4GHz... Read more
Holiday sales this weekend: Mac minis availab...
B&H Photo has new 2014 Mac minis on sale for up to $80 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 1.4GHz Mac mini: $459 $40 off MSRP - 2.6GHz Mac mini: $629 $70 off MSRP... Read more
Holiday sales this weekend: Mac Pros for up t...
B&H Photo has Mac Pros on sale for up to $500 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 3.7GHz 4-core Mac Pro: $2599, $400 off MSRP - 3.5GHz 6-core Mac Pro: $3499, $... Read more
Save up to $400 on MacBooks with Apple Certif...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 MacBook Pros and MacBook Airs available for up to $400 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and... Read more
Save up to $300 on Macs, $30 on iPads with Ap...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad at The Apple Store for Education and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free,... Read more
iOS and Android OS Targeted by Man-in-the-Mid...
Cloud services security provider Akamai Technologies, Inc. has released, through the company’s Prolexic Security Engineering & Research Team (PLXsert), a new cybersecurity threat advisory. The... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Store Leader Program (US) - Apple, I...
…Summary Learn and grow as you explore the art of leadership at the Apple Store. You'll master our retail business inside and out through training, hands-on experience, Read more
Project Manager, *Apple* Financial Services...
**Job Summary** Apple Financial Services (AFS) offers consumers, businesses and educational institutions ways to finance Apple purchases. We work with national and 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
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.