This week, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that deals with reinventing an aspect of iPhone protective cases so that covered buttons to turn on iPhone or adjust the volume could use a magnetics system to deliver a crisp tactile click when you press these buttons as if there was no cover. Today's experiences are not always so great.
Electronic devices are often designed with precise predetermined factors and standards to ensure consistency in the user experience. It has become increasingly common for an electronic device to be paired with an accessory as a case. An accessory can provide additional benefits in terms of protection, improved appearance and / or additional features. However, an accessory can also change the operation of the electronic device and sometimes change the user experience and feel of the electronic
Apple's patent relates to devices, systems and methods that retain the original tactile sense of a button after an electronic device is connected to an accessory which can change the tactile feel of the button.
Apple's iPhone may contain an actuator with a button, where the actuator unit requires applying at least one threshold force to an available surface of the button.
The system may also include an option that is removably connected to an iPhone. The accessory device may be formed of a material and include a triggering magnetic element.
When the accessory device is connected to the electronic device, the button's threshold force changes. Thus, the tactile compensation unit may contain a trigger unit and be made possible when the triggering magnetic element of the accessory device forms a magnetic circuit with the trigger and thereby causes the tactile compensation unit to compensate for the change to the threshold activation force.
The tactile sense of a button is usually predetermined by designers based on the expected desirable user experience and user experience of the electronic device. For example, in some cases it may be desirable that the buttons have a sharp tactile feel to allow quick snaping.
However, an accessory associated with an electronic device may sometimes change the original predetermined tactile sense of a button on the electronic device. In one case, an accessory may take the form of a protective bag that may have a layer of material that covers one or more buttons on the electronic device. In such a configuration, at least a portion of the accessory device may become part of the button stack, whereby mechanical properties of material associated with the accessory affect the overall mechanical response of the button. Therefore, an activation force to activate the button will have to be applied through the part of the accessory.
Often this can change the tactile feel of the button because the new keystroke that contains some of the options that cover the button may have a new overall spring constant and may have a new threshold activation force that can activate the button stack. For example, an accessory made of an elastic material such as silicone or leather may make an original crisp button feel softer because the elastic material has a lower spring constant than the button.
Apple's solution is to create a system of accessory makers to include a magnet system in an iPhone cover under the buttons made of leather or elastic material to fit the iPhone buttons to give the users a clean, sharp -like clicks like an iPhone without a case.
Apple patent application 20180335801 was originally filed in Q2 2017. This is a patent application, the time of such a product to the market is unknown at the moment.