Last month, Apple patented a report entitled "New Apple Patent Reveals Finger Units to Use with a Future Mixed Reality Head instead of Sensor Gloves." Today, US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that continues to work on this subject using finger devices, but with a completely different context. Apple's main inventor has been with Apple for six years and for two of those years he was Senior Input Technologist.
Next-generation notebooks can provide a dual screen form factor with one of the displays that can act as a large virtual keyboard. At the end of January this year, we covered a patent application from Apple in a report titled "Future Virtual MacBook Keyboards Will Use Deformable Glasses to Provide a Superior Tactical Experience."
Apple has a number of other patents on the disc that cover futuristic dual display MacBooks that can support virtual keyboards and other configurations (01, 02 and 03).
In today's published patent application, Apple's engineering group finds an alternative system in the short term while working on deformable glass for the future. Apple's latest disclosures on this cover cover a system involving the use of finger-mounted devices to "cushion" the action of a finger hitting a hard surface such as the glass on an LCD or OLED screen.
Apple notes that "A sensor like an optical proximity sensor or capacitive proximity sensor can be used for monitoring when the finger-mounted device and a user's finger in the device approach the entrance surface of the electronic device. In response to detection of the finger's movement toward the input surface, actuators in the finger-mounted unit, pinch your finger inward, causing a finger pad portion of the finger to protrude toward the entrance surface, and thereby soften the impact between the finger and the entrance surface . "
Apple further notes that the electronic device may also has a number of components that abut the finger-mounted device and / or finger in response to detection of the finger's movement toward the entrance surface. These components can produce repulsive force by electrostatics, magnetic repulsion or attraction, ultrasound output and mechanical output. For example, the components may include a series of electromagnetic overlapping input surfaces which magnetically repel a component such as a permanent magnet in the finger-mounted unit.
Apple later notes that insert surfaces such as virtual keyboards can be formed on other structures such as tabletops, car dashboards, refrigerators, and so on.
For example, finger pressure input can be assembled in an input surface where key icons have been projected with a projector and / or finger pressing input can be assembled from an input surface without any visible key icons.
An unmodified finger impact event can be characterized by an abrupt force-to-displacement profile (e.g., fast rising force on a user's finger when running a relatively short distance to an input surface). By modifying these forces, a user can be provided with softer finger-to-input surface interactions, with finger experiences that mimic the effect of clicking on a physical button and / or other finger feelings.
Apple's Patent FIG. 13 shown below shows how the housing of the finger-mounted unit 26A can wrap under the finger tip (# 10) while allowing fingernail (# 18) to be exposed.
The finger-mounted units can be individually worn or a glove accessory can be used with the built-in finger-mounted devices.
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