Apple patents show revolutionary input devices
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Apple patents show revolutionary input devices

New Apple patents at the US Patent & Trademark Office show that Apple is planning on tweaking its input devices -- and apparently has new devices at least in the planning stages.

Patent number 2010039381 is for a rotatable input device. Think of the Magic Mouse on steroids. In an example embodiment, a computer mouse is provided. This computer mouse includes a surface tracking sensor that detects movement of the computer mouse along the support surface. Additionally included are one or more orientation sensors that detect a movement of the computer mouse relative to a pivot point. The computer mouse also includes a controller that is configured to translate the movement along the support surface into a two-dimensional coordinate and to translate the movement relative to the pivot point into a magnitude of rotation. The inventors are Michael Andrew Cretella Junior and David Thomas Amm.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "As is well-known, a computer mouse is a hand-operated device typically used for navigating a cursor displayed on a computer screen for control of graphical user interfaces. The mouse functions by detecting translational, or two-dimensional motion along its support surface, and translating this motion into movement of the cursor. A conventional mouse usually includes at least one input or control button or an equivalent touch-sensitive location, but may commonly include multiple buttons or touch sensitive locations, and may include one or more scroll balls, and/or scroll wheels that provide additional input or control. It is believed that typical configuration of the mouse, although serviceable for input purposes, requires more complex motions, and therefore is a less intuitive experience for a user than is possible with other configurations and functionalities of the mouse.

"Accordingly, embodiments of the invention provide new computer mice and methods for navigation with a mouse. These computer mice and navigation techniques offer particular advantages to navigate content displayed on a computer screen.

"Example embodiments provide various computer mice and techniques for navigation with a computer mouse. In general, examples of the invention as described herein allow for additional movement of a mouse adapted to operate on a support surface. The examples are described herein primarily in the context of having a rotatable mouse situated on the support surface where a rotation of the mouse relative to a pivot point translates into a particular event.

"As an example, such a mouse has a bottom surface with a convex shape. This convex shape allows the mouse to be rotatable on the support surface. This mouse includes a surface tracking sensor that detects translational movement of the mouse along the support surface. Additionally included are one or more orientation sensors that detect the rotational movement of the mouse.

"A rotation of the mouse is used for moving content displayed on a processing system, such as a computer. As one example, a rotational movement of the mouse may translate into a scroll event that, when processed by the processing system, scrolls the displayed content. In another example, a rotational movement of the mouse may translate into a yaw event that, when processed by the processing system, rotates the displayed content."

Patent number 20100039394 is for a hybrid inertial and touch sensing input device. It relates to electronic input devices and more particularly to electronic input devices having both inertial sensors and touch sensors. The inventor is Farshid Moussavi.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Conventional input devices, such as computer mice, typically employ optical sensors, track wheels or track balls to control the motion of a cursor or other navigational object on a computer display screen. Other types of input devices that measure a force imparted onto the input device typically incorporate one or more accelerometers for sensing acceleration forces exerted on the input device as it is moved by a user. A velocity of the electronic input device may be calculated and estimated by integrating the measured acceleration over time, and a position estimate of the input device may be calculated by integrating its velocity over time. In this way, motion of an accelerometer-based input device may be translated to motion of a cursor or other navigational object on a computer display screen.

"Touch-sensitive panels can also be used as an input device to control the motion of a cursor or other navigational object on a computer display screen. One common type of touch-sensitive panel is a touch pad. In general, touch-sensitive panels can detect one or more touch contacts on the surface of the touch-sensitive panel and generate signals indicative of the touch contacts. A computer can then control a cursor or other navigational object based on the detected touch contacts.

"Various problems are associated with conventional input devices. For example, most, if not all, conventional input devices are inadequate in tracking both large and fine motions. For example, inertial sensing-based input devices typically track large ranges of motion well (e.g., moving a cursor across the length of a display screen), but not fine ranges of motions. In contrast, touch-sensitive pads typically track fine ranges of motions well, but not large ranges of motion. For example, moving a cursor from one end of the display screen to the other end may require a user to swipe his or her finger across a touch pad multiple times before the cursor moves to the other end of the display screen.

"Embodiments of the present invention are directed to input devices using both inertial sensors and touch sensors. An exemplary input device has a motion sensing element capable of estimating a position of the input device based on a force applied to the input device. The motion sensing element can be used to track large ranges of motion. The input device can also include a touch sensitive surface operable to detect touches on the touch sensitive surface. The touch sensitive surface can be used to track relatively smaller ranges of motion.

"In accordance with some embodiments, a method for using inertial inputs and touch inputs of an electronic input device can include receiving a motion input from a motion sensor, and calculating a first estimated motion based on the motion input. The method can further include receiving a touch input from a touch sensor, and calculating a second estimated motion based on the touch input. The method can further include outputting the first estimated motion if the first estimated motion exceeds a first threshold, and outputting the second estimated motion if the second estimated motion exceeds a second threshold.

"In accordance with various embodiments, an electronic input device can have a motion sensing element operable to measure a motion of the electronic input device to obtain a motion input, and a touch sensing element operable to measure a touch motion on the electronic input device to obtain a touch input. The electronic input device can also include a processing element operable to calculate a first estimated motion based on the motion input and calculate a second estimated motion based on the touch input. The processing element can also operate to provide the first estimated motion as an output if the first estimated motion is greater than a first threshold, and provide the second estimated motion as an output, if the second estimated motion is greater than a second threshold. The electronic input device can also have an external interface operable to send the output to a receiving device.

"In accordance with various embodiments, a computer-readable medium can have instructions for receiving a motion input from a motion sensor, and calculating a first estimated motion based on the motion input. The instructions can further include receiving a touch input from a touch sensor, and calculating a second estimated motion based on the touch input. The instructions can provide for outputting the first estimated motion estimate if the first estimated motion is greater than a first threshold, and outputting the second estimated motion, if the second estimated motion is greater than a second threshold.

"In accordance with some embodiments, method for using inertial inputs and touch inputs of an electronic input device includes receiving a motion input from a motion sensor, and calculating a first estimated motion based on the motion input. The method receives a touch input from a touch sensor, and calculates a second estimated motion based on the touch input. The method obtains a first weight and a second weight, and calculates a motion output signal based on the first and the second weights, and the first and the second motion inputs. In this manner, the motion output signal can be calculated by the relationship V=Wa*Va+Wt*Vt, where V is the motion output signal, Wa and Wt are the respective weighting factors of the velocity Va and Vt, Va (first estimated motion) is the velocity output signal derived from the accelerometer output signal, and Vt (second estimated motion) is the velocity output signal derived from the touch sensor output signal device.

"Various embodiments relate to an electronic input device having a motion sensing element operable to measure a motion of the electronic input device, and a touch sensing element operable to detect a touch motion on the electronic input device. The electronic input device can also include a processing element operable to calculate a first estimated motion based on a motion input, calculate a second estimated motion based on a touch input, and calculate an output based on a first weight and a second weight, and the first and the second motion inputs.

"Further embodiments relate to computer-readable medium embodying instructions for receiving a motion input from a motion sensor, and calculating a first estimated motion based on the motion input. The instructions can also include receiving a touch input from a touch sensor, and calculating a second estimated motion based on the touch input. In additional, the instructions can include obtaining a first weight and a second weight, and calculating a motion output signal based on the first and the second weights, and the first and the second motion inputs. In this manner, the motion output can be calculated by the relationship V=Wa*Va+Wt*Vt, where V is the motion output signal, Wa and Wt are the respective weighting factors of the velocity Va and Vt, Va (first estimated motion) is the velocity output signal derived from the accelerometer output signal, and Vt (second estimated motion) is the velocity output signal derived from the touch sensor output signal device."

Patent application 20100042358, also invented by Farshid Moussavi, involves motion plane correction for MEMS-based input devices. It involves an electronic motion-based input device and method for correcting errors in acceleration due to a deviation from a horizontal plane of motion by correcting for gravitational acceleration components due to the deviation in the plane of motion.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Embodiments of the present invention are directed to methods and apparatuses for reducing or eliminating tracking errors associated with moving an accelerometer based tracking device, or other force based tracking devices, at a tilt with respect to a plane normal to the direction of the gravitational force.

"Embodiments of the present invention are directed to motion-based input devices and provide a method and system for correcting errors in acceleration measurements due to a deviation from a horizontal plane of motion by correcting for a gravitational acceleration components due to the deviation in the plane of motion. In one embodiment, the invention provides a system and method for determining an angle of tilt (tilt angle) of the plane of motion, and correcting for gravitational acceleration if the tilt angle is not excessively large.

"In one embodiment, the invention provides a method for compensating for a tilted plane of motion for a motion-based input device. The method comprises, calculating a total acceleration of the electronic input device in a tilted plane of motion, calculating an angle of tilt of the tilted plane of motion, and estimating an error in the total acceleration of the electronic input device in the plane of motion due to the angle of tilt. The method further includes correcting the acceleration of the electronic input device based on the estimated error to obtain a corrected acceleration of the electronic input device.

"In another embodiment, the invention provides an electronic input device that includes a motion sensing element operable to measure a motion of the electronic input device to obtain a motion input. The electronic input device further includes a processing element operable to: receive measured motion parameters, calculate a total acceleration of the electronic input device in a tilted plane of motion, calculate an angle of tilt of the tilted plane of motion, estimate an error in the total acceleration of the electronic input device in the tilted plane of motion due to the angle of tilt, and correct the acceleration of the electronic input device based on the error to obtain a corrected acceleration of the electronic input device. The electronic input device also includes an external interface operable to send the output to an external device (e.g., a computer).

"In a further embodiment, the invention provides a computer-readable medium comprising program code for compensating for a tilted plane of motion for a motion-based input device. The computer-readable medium includes program code for obtaining motion parameter, calculating a total acceleration of the electronic input device in a tilted plane of motion, and an angle of tilt of the tilted plane of motion, and estimating an error in the total acceleration of the electronic input device in the tilted plane of motion due to the angle of tilt. The computer-readable medium also comprises program code for correcting the total acceleration of the electronic input device based on the error to obtain a corrected acceleration of the electronic input device."

 
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