Apple seeks touchscreen display mouse patent
Poke, tap, and tickle your colorful rodent
Apple has filed a patent application for a mouse with a context-aware, configurable display perched on its back.
As described in a US Patent and Trademark Office filing entitled Computer Input Device Including a Display Device, the mouse would have an LED, LCD, OLED, or TFT display inside that would project its contents through collimated optical fibers to a curved, touch-sensitive surface.
'It's a mouse!' 'It's a touchscreen interface!' Stop – you're both right
That surface could display user-selectable icons or other navigation elements, or could provide: "Options to improve the appearance to a user, such as, for example, user customization of appearance, [providing] the potential to improve the user experience with the input device, even apart from adding functionality."
To accomplish the goal of both a mouse-mounted touchscreen interface and the display of photos of Junior and/or The Lovely Wife, the input device would need to be equipped with an impressive array of electronics, including a processor, memory, movement sensors, display circuitry and more – not to mention boring ol' buttons and scrolling-control elements.
There's a lot going on inside Apple's proposed more-magic than Magic Mouse
What all that electronic goodness would add to the price of such a mouse is not mentioned in the filing. Nor, for that matter does the filing discuss why anyone would want to visually search out and tap on interface elements on a handheld device such as a mouse, other than saying of current user interfaces: "It is not always apparent to the user which input should be used to access particular application functions; the functionality to a user might be improved through a more communicative input device."
The idea of context-sensitive interface elements is not a new one. Keyboards with display-based keys that change in reponse to context have had a long history, including such questionable projects as the Optimus Maximus keyboard – which was among the winners of Wired's 2006 Vaporware Awards – and the less-ambitious United Keys 205Pro.
Multifunction mice are also not unheard of. Although we're not aware of a mouse that performs such complex tricks as Apple envisions, 3Dconnexion offers the SpacePilot Pro – "The Ultimate Professional 3D Mouse" – that includes an LCD display with which you can, among other things, check your email and calendar.
Other tricky mice have also been offered to what must be described as a less-than-receptive market. 3M, for example, makes a mouse with a built-in numeric keypad, the LX451. Weterm Electronics and others make telephone-equipped mice, and Sony offered a mouse with a VoIP-app phone.
One intrepid hacker even married a LogiTech mouse with a Nokia phone, and dubbed it the LogiNoki. We wonder what Apple might call its touchable display mouse – the iPoki? ®
Once again, all together:
I believe that will be all.
Are they also patenting the transparent hand?
I find I can't see very much of the top of my mouse when using it, because my hand covers it. Perhaps a tactile system would avoid the opacity problem? Some sort of raised area to indicate the clickable bits perhaps? In an advanced model they could even be made to move to provide feedback that the input had registered.
Or perhaps I don't need a transparent hand, perhaps I'm just 'holding it wrong', but Apple would never use such an excuse, would they?
What a great idea. Will it come with a mini mouse so the fat-fingered apple-twaterati can navigate to controls on their new screen. And will that one have a screen? Im off to patent a micro-mouse for navigating the screen on a mini mouse that is used to navigate the screen... sod it, i'm bored.