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Apple updates the patent that describes the deformable materials used in the manufacture of AirPods Pro & Apple Pencil



Yesterday, the US Patent and Trademark Office published a continuation patent from Apple for the deformable material used in the manufacture of AirPods Pro and Apple Pencil, which has room for touch and pressure control. Patent briefly covered Apple’s first granted patent back in May 2020.

Apple’s patent FIG. 2A below illustrates an earplug having a deformable surface as part of a user input component; FIG. 2C illustrates a pen with a deformable surface as part of a user input component.

2 AirPods Apple pencil patent

Yesterday’s patent application was not about a new patent filing, but rather about one continuation patent where Apple informs the patent office that they are updating and / or adding specific technology, features and / or methods that they will legally extend to their currently granted patent. Any modification and / or addition to the invention is limited to Apple’s patent claims.

So, what did Apple update in its patent claims?

All of Apple’s patent claims granted in May basically covered everything related to “An earplug.” In Apple’s recent patent application, Apple legally decided to add new claims to the original patent to better protect the invention from patent role and / or possible competing lawsuits. So, what have they updated?

Apple’s updated patent claims add 20 new ones divided into three different groups: 1) 7 claims covering “An input device”; (2) 7 claims covering “A Stylus”; and, (3) 6 requirements covering the “User Intake Mechanism.”

An input device

In construction, all requirements are new with some common elements greatly expanded

  1. An input device comprising: a shell configured to deform in response to an applied force and defining an inner cavity; a compressible hyperelastic material contained in the inner cavity and defining a void, a volume of the void configured to change in response to the applied force; and a pressure sensor element communicatively connected to the void and configured to generate a signal in response to a pressure in the void, the pressure corresponding to the void.
  2. The input unit of claim 1, further comprising: a first inflexible disk placed in the shell; and another inflexible disk placed in the shell; wherein: the uncompressible hyperelastic material is located between the first rigid disk and the second rigid disk; and the pressure sensitive element is encapsulated in the uncompressible hyperelastic material.
  1. An input device according to claim 1, wherein: the void space contains at least one of a compressible gas or a material that is not compressible; and the compressible gas or non-compressible material is in contact with the pressure sensitive element.
  1. An input device according to claim 1, wherein: the input device is a pen; the shell is an elongated housing of the pen; and the pen comprises a contact point located at one end of the elongate housing.
  1. An input device according to claim 4, wherein: The contact point is configured to emit a light color; and the signal generated by the pressure sensing element causes the color of the light emitted from the contact point to change to another light color.
  1. An input unit according to claim 1, further comprising an inflexible disk located at the first end of the inner cavity; wherein: the pressure sensing element is located in a second end of the inner cavity, the second end opposite to the first end; and the void is located in the inner cavity, near the pressure sensing element.
  1. The input device of claim 6, wherein: the void extends from the second end of the inner cavity toward the first end of the inner cavity; and the void has a cylindrical shape in uncompressible hyperelastic material.

All requirements under “Stylus” are new

  1. A pen comprising: an elongate housing defining: an outer surface configured to deform in response to a force applied to the outer surface; and an inner cavity in the pen; a contact point located at the end of the elongate housing; a compressible hyperelastic material contained in the inner cavity and defining a void, a shape of the void configured to change in response to the force applied to the outer surface; and a pressure sensing element communicatively coupled to the void and configured to generate a signal in response to a pressure in the void, the pressure in the void corresponding to the shape of the void.
  1. The pen of claim 8, wherein: the contact point emits a color of light; and a change in the signal generated by the pressure sensing element causes the light color to change to another color.

Apple’s claim # 9 with “the point of contact emits a light color” and switching to another color is something for the future, as Apple Pencil does not seem to have that feature yet.

3 color palettes for apple pencil

Two months after this current continuation patent was filed, an interesting patent came out that we covered under the title “Apple Pencil may one day include an advanced color sensor system that allows artists to match colors from a palette or real objects.” Did Apple hint at such a feature in claim 9?

  1. The pen of claim 8, wherein: the end is a first end; the pen further comprises a second end, the second end opposite the first end; the pressure sensing element is located between the first end and the second end; and the void space is close to the pressure sensing element.
  1. The pen of claim 10, wherein the void has a cylindrical shape in the uncompressible hyperelastic material.
  1. A pen according to claim 10, characterized in that the pressure-sensitive element is encapsulated in the uncompressible hyperelastic material.
  1. The pen of claim 8, wherein: the force is a first force; the signal generated by the pressure sensor element is configured to change in response to the first force and a second force, the second force applied to the outer surface within a time interval after application of the first force.
  1. The pen of claim 13, further comprising: a controller configured to control an operation of the pen or device in communication with the pen, in response to the signal generated by the pressure sensing element.

All requirements under “A user intake mechanism” are new

  1. A user input mechanism for an electronic device, the user input mechanism comprising: a deformable input section, a cross-section of the deformable input section configured to compress in response to a user-applied force; a void located in the deformable entrance section, a pressure inside the void configured to change in response to a compression of the deformable entrance section; a pressure sensor configured to detect the pressure in the void; and a control unit communicatively connected to the pressure sensor and configured to change an operation of the electronic device at least in part in response to the pressure satisfying a threshold value.
  1. The user intake mechanism of claim 15, wherein the void contains at least one of a compressible gas or a non-compressible material.
  1. The user input mechanism of claim 15, wherein: the user applied force is a first user applied force; the pressure in the vacuum is configured to change in response to the first user applied force and a second user applied force, the second user applied force occurring after the first user applied force; and the controller is further configured to change the operation of the electronic device at least in part in response to detection of the first user applied force and the second user applied force.
  1. The user input mechanism according to claim 17, wherein the controller only changes the operation of the electronic device when the controller determines that the second user applied force occurs within a given time interval after the force applied by the first user.
  1. The user input mechanism of claim 15, wherein the controller is further configured to detect a length of time the user applies force to the deformable input section.
  1. The user input mechanism according to claim 19, wherein the control unit is further configured to change the operation of the electronic device during the time when the user applies force to the deformable input section.

Apple’s continuation patent published yesterday by the US Patent Office was originally filed on May 15, 2020, or 4 days before their first patent for this invention was granted.

10.51XF - Patent Report Line for Continuation




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