Apple has won a patent for a deployable “key mouse” for a compact MacBook keyboard design

Apple has won a patent for a deployable "key mouse" for a compact MacBook keyboard design

Today, the United States Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent relating to computer systems and computer input devices. More specifically, the present embodiments relate to a new type of compact keyboard design that provides either a removable key (or set of keys) that is usable as a separate input device such as a mouse, pointing device, or joystick. .

According to Apple, trackpads, trackpads and trackballs take up valuable space in portable electronic devices that are constantly shrinking in size and thickness. A sliding portable mouse is generally more comfortable for fine-pointing operations or extended use, but portable mice are also large, have limited portability, or require special working environments (for example, those with a mouse tracking surface appropriate) to be used effectively.

Accordingly, aspects of the granted patent relate to input devices where a keyboard has at least one deployable and removable input device that is specialized for input similar to a mouse, stylus, wand or other remote portable input to computing device. when the deployable input device is separated from the keyboard.

For example, the specialized key may be removed from the keyboard and may include input and sensor features configured to receive “click” input from a user and to track the position or movement of the deployed key as it moves across a tracking surface.

The removable key may include features and elements that allow the key to function as a mouse or other remote input device, such as an optical tracking sensor configured to face and detect the position or movement of the key. a surface under the optical tracking sensor.

The key may also have a button, touch sensor, or similar structure to detect click input from a user.

Apple’s patent FIG. Figure 1 below illustrates a keyboard with detachable keys that can be used as a mouse or pointing device. The keyboard can be a compact or full-size keyboard. The keyboard can be a desktop computer keyboard or a MacBook keyboard; In Figs. 1A and 1B, a user could use a set of keys to be used as a remote input device. The user would press a button to release the keys. the set of keys acting as a remote input device (#106) can have several different buttons that provide different operations or functions.

In fig. 2A above, the housing (#202) may include a side surface (#222) which may include a retractable body portion (#224) which may be extendable from the side surface to increase the size of the housing. The body portion may alternatively be referred to as an expandable side member of the housing.

In some embodiments, the top surface may be convex, as shown by surface (#336) in FIG. 3 above. A convex top surface can be positioned on a rectangular key slot or on an elliptical or cylindrical key slot. A concave or convex top surface can advantageously have a higher surface than a planar and flat top surface and can therefore provide an additional surface against which a user can provide tactile or sliding input to the removable input device as indicated by the arrows bidirectional ( #300). The central function can also be used as a fingerprint reader.

Apple’s patent FIG. 16 below shows a simplified view of another embodiment of a #1600 input device. In some embodiments, central feature #1606 is an optical or tactile sensor configured to detect the presence, surface features, or motion of an external user object at outer surface #1604. In one example, the central function can be a fingerprint reader.

3 Apple keyboard-mouse keyboard

In Apple’s patent FIG. 17 above, central function may occur when the user provides sufficient force. This could provide the user with joystick-like functionality.

For more details, see the patent granted by Apple 11,275,451.

10.52FX - Patent Bar Granted