Feeds

Apple seeks patent for keyboard that sucks

Or blows. Or both

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Apple has applied for a patent that describes a novel method for improving the tactile feedback of ultra-thin keyboards: each key emits a puff of air when either approached or touched, and can be pneumatically sucked downward in response to touch.

When we discovered patent application number 20110107958, "Input devices and methods of operation", we checked to see if it had been filed on April 1. Nope: it was filed on November 12, 2009, and published this Thursday.

We also checked out the bona fides of the lead inventor, Aleksandar Pance. He appears legit, having filed 18 patents for Apple since late 2008, mostly focused on input devices.

Apple patent illustration: a keyboard that blows and sucks

As your finger approaches, a puff of air is released to add to tactile feedback and a vacuum pulls the key downward

But the filing itself? Well, that's another matter. It does address a legitimate concern – the fact that thin keyboards with limited key travel can provide less-than-satisfactory user experience – but a keyboard that blows and sucks? Color us unconvinced.

Still, the embodiments – "examples", in patentese – described in patent application 20110107958 are ingenious. In one, proximity sensors detect an approaching fingertip, and emit a puff of air "through openings in a key surface, or through openings adjacent the key assembly."

Another embodiment senses an approaching finger and applies air pressure to the space below the key, causing it to more strongly resist the finger's advance.

Still another embodiment sucks the key downward when it is depressed, causing it to be "thus pneumatically pulled away from the user," with the desired effect being to "provide the user with the impression of a longer keystroke than is actually present."

Apple patent illustration: a keyboard that blows and sucks

In this embodiment, the keyboard merely sucks – the key down into its housing, that is

The application also describes a number of different embodiments that combine blowing and sucking in various combinations, ways to regulate the amount of air pressure used to enhance key resistance, and proximity and contact sensors using capacitance or optical sensing.

Nowhere in the filing, however, is a discussion of how all this keystroke-enhancing technology can be fit into a keyboard without making it bulkier than it would be otherwise, even though the solutions it proposes are specifically targeted at enhancing tactile feedback in low-profile devices. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Kaspersky backpedals on 'done nothing wrong, nothing to fear' blather
Founder (and internet passport fan) now says privacy is precious
TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit
Chocolate Factory hits back at firm for suing customers
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Sit tight, fanbois. Apple's '$400' wearable release slips into early 2015
Sources: time to put in plenty of clock-watching for' iWatch
Facebook to let stalkers unearth buried posts with mobe search
Prepare to HAUNT your pal's back catalogue
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.