back to article Apple applies to light up laptop touchpads, iPod clickwheels

Apple has touched on a new way to help you find your way around its products. The company has registered technology in the US that could see the iPod’s clickwheel or your MacBook Air’s touchpad light-up when you finger it. Apple patent Apple's design for iPods with light-up clickwheels The patent application, which was …


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  1. J-Wick

    Light up when you finger it?

    Is it just me or did anyone else think of...?

    It's probably just me.

    I'm going, I'm going...

  2. The low flying Finn
    Jobs Horns

    Stupid re-invention of wheel !

    Any touchscreen is already capable of displaying that s**tty wheel of theirs - with all those "invented" functions - on-screen.

    And if you don't like wheels you could easily change that to pentagram or other symbol preferable. Perhaps some symbol of pornographic nature. I would prefer using iTits control gland with nipple-stiffing feedback control =P

  3. Chad H.
    Thumb Down

    shiny shiny

    it certainly will attract the shiny shiny brigade... But will be forgotten after 5 mins.

  4. Andy
    Thumb Down


    I may be missing something here but, having racked my brain for all of the previous 30 seconds, I can't come up with a need for this. On my iPod I get guided round the menu options by visual indicators on the screen such as the menu item in question becoming highlighted in some way to distinguish it from others. Once the required menu item is highlighted I then click with the centre button to choose that menu option.

    I can almost imagine that this might be some help to partially sighted people but only if the light was bright and there were enough different colours to represent each menu option...otherwise they're better off jamming the screen right up to their face and checking for the previously described 'visual feedback' mechanism which is already present - like I have to do when I'm indulging in spectacle-free iPod usage.

  5. Stephen


    As long as they don't charge me £13 for it when every bugger else gets it for free I don't give a crap!

  6. Alastair Dodd
    Jobs Horns

    Yet another

    pointless patent as devices have been doing that sort of thing to a limited extent for ages. US patent clerks should throw it out as it may have some innovation but also sucks in trying to get the rights to a load of prior art too.

  7. Anonymous Coward


    See gesturing requires use of two fingers

  8. Smudger

    It's just eye candy ...

    ... and another way to waste battery power, but i'm sure the Numpties (with full-blown flashing light syndrome) will be queueing up to buy it.

  9. Maria Helm
    Thumb Down

    like my smartphone already does?

    Keyboard on my smartphone lights up when you type. I don't think this patent should be granted, as it's not exactly unique.

  10. Steve

    So whats new

    All the mp3 players and mobile phones I've had for years have lit up when I've started to use the interface, so whats new?

  11. jubtastic1
    Jobs Halo

    After playing with my new mobe *cough*iPhone*cough*

    My laptop trackpad looks awful dull, I don't think some flashing lights will jolly it up much either. Why not just jam in an iPhone display instead? and while you're at it pop in some 3G and GPS chips, so it's always online like my phone and with a useful mapping do-dad. I'll be first in the queue for that lappy.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Backlighting is useful; feedback? Hmmm.

    Trying to use an iPod in the dark would be made easier by having the touchwheel backlit, certainly. Same goes for the touchpad on a lappie. Not sure about the differnt types of feedback, though - don't think it'd be useful, but then it would another element of "ooo" which they seem to like...

  13. The_Police!


    Finger lightworks when rubbed?

    That's my coat! The one with tears in it.

  14. !!11oneeleven
    Thumb Down

    Really bad idea

    Then again, I'm one of those types who are soooo tired of all kinds of devices blinking and lighting up for no reason at all.

    (You know, like that blue blinking ear-gear for mobiles...)

  15. Jason Harvey
    Thumb Down

    "interface lights up when used"

    umm... prior art everywhere. cell phones anyone? Push a key... any key... and the lights come on. Just because they use a touch interface doesn't mean it's new. Like "The low flying Finn" said... touchscreens have been around a long time and can do all kinda of stuff (all dependant on their user interface of course).

    Apple: if we don't have the patent, we'll make it look a little different and then patent it.

  16. Keiran
    Thumb Down

    Useless lights on portable devices


    I thought we were supposed to be trying to save the environment these days. More lights etc shorten battery life so:

    a) you have to charge it more often

    b) the overall batery life is shortened (good for apple as you're more likely to replace the iPod as a whole than replace the battery)

    I've a laptop which has a set of shortcuts above the keyboard which are lit with indapendent blue LEDs which you cannot turn off and have no functionallity, there is even a light which comes on when you mute sound.

    It's time manufacturers started thinking if it is really a neccessary light


  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Prior Art

    J.M. Jarre had a thing, called a "keyboard", that, depending on which "key" you pressed, it lit up, showing you what key had been pressed.

    Also, there are these things called plasma balls. When you touch them the part you are touching lights up, with a glow around your finger.

    Can't wait for this totally unique invention.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    What is it with apple taking common electronics and patenting it?

    they are trying to patent ANY sensor system couples with ANY visual feedback.

    in a few years when everyone finally stops buying their toys, they will make SCO and RAMBUS business by lawyer look like rank amateurs.

  19. Jonathan Powell

    But Apple have already made touchpads obsolete

    This patent is redundant.

    There is already visual feedback on (almost) all touch screen implementations. By essentially retrofitting this concept to a touchpad - that is, giving it some form of 'screen' functionality - Apple are not creating anything new at all. They don't deserve to be granted this patent, but they'll probably get it.

    I'll agree with a few other posters that backlighting is useful, though. I love touch-surface technology and Apple do it really well.

  20. Luke Mahon

    Hold on a second...

    Don't apple already make an iPod with a brightly lit multi-coulur touchpad complete with user input feedback?

    It's called the iPod Touch and I, for one, thought this was the future of Apple's Ipod interface - Isn't this patent something of a step backwards?

  21. Steve Ives

    Who needs a pretty UI?

    What's with Apply trying to make things easier to use? How dare they!

    I think you should need to write & run an assembler program when you want your PDA/MP3 player/laptop to do anything...

    LA R15,0

    BR R14


  22. SpitefulGOD
    Gates Halo


    Apple just likes to patent things for future income, like that patent for the "pinching" movement, it's been used on multitouch displays for years yet apple get a hold of it and decide that they've "invented" it.... tits.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Personally, I hate the IPod UI

    For starters, why should I have to physically crank a fucking wheel to select something in a menu? My thumb gets sore after spinning through 5000 different artists. As long as they are making you crank something, why not an actual crank that powers the device? I thought electronics were supposed to reduce physical labor. And secondly, I hate animated menus. Sure they are supposed to be easy to use or whatever, but waiting 200ms for a menu to scroll pisses me off. Buying a faster system is supposed to increase effective response time, and they are wasting it on stupid animations. So yeah, Apple may have reinvented the UI or whatever, but only to apease flashy light muppets and piss off power users.

  24. J

    I wonder...

    "Can the wheel flash to the beat of your music?"

    If that's in the plans, will they be sued when someone has an epileptic fit while using a flashing iPod?

  25. Ivan Headache


    "like that patent for the "pinching" movement, it's been used on multitouch displays for years "

    Has it? I've never seen it before the iPod and I've been involved in electronics one way or another since 1964.

    That said, I can't see the point of this one.

  26. Bertie

    Food for thought!

    Could their be a link between this patent and something similar to Perceptive Pixel multi-touch software which Apple already uses in the iphone.

    Although patent doesn't refer to such, since when did Apple release patents which stated clearly their intended use.

    With a BIG increase in Research and Development over the past 8 Months maybe this is the next big thing that's due.

    May sound far fetched but read between the lines and it's not impossible that this is what it could be referring to.

  27. system

    The reason is ...

    Jobs is a fan of the old Simon game.

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