An Apple patent?
Errr... Hang on, I guess it is extremely unlikely that there will be prior art in something that weird. I guess every rule does have an exception, then. I'll get my coat.
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 …
The US patent system is broken in many ways. One of the ways it's broken is that taking existing technology and applying that to a new field can be patentable (or so I'm told, by patent attorneys). So although "keys that do different levels depending on how far you push them" is well-known in the "musical instruments" field, it might well be novel and patentable in the "computer / phone keyboards" field.
Errr... no we don't. Nowhere does the article mention that the keyboard registers the ferocity with which the user has struck the keyboard.... although that would be easy to do with some strain gauges mounted under the keys.
A patent for an actual physical invention... kind of refreshing. Of course as one other pointed out here they don't actually know how to do it in a slim keyboard... so although it CAN be done the keyboard probably would be more bulky than a full stroke job... kind of counter-productive this.
I'm all for advances in technology, where-ever it may be found. Maybe this will come of age sometime, but if it's designed for low-profile devices, that tends to indicate low-power devices too. Won't this require more power?
Regardless, I find the tactile feedback of a Thinkpad keyboard perfectly adequate, and much better than most desktop keyboards.
I''''''''''''''''mmmmm ttryyinnnngg oooooooonneeeeeee ooooooooooooooffffffffff teehhhhheeeeeeeessssssssssee oooooooouuuuutttttttttttttttt rrrrriiiiiiiiigggggghhhtttttttttt nnnnnnnooooooooooowwwwwww,,,,,,,,,, hhhhhooooooooooowwwweeeeeeevvvvveeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrr,,, ttttttthhhhhheeeeeeeeeeee vvvvvvaaaaaacccccccuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmm tttttthhhhhhiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnngggggggg nnneeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeddddddsssss aaaaaaaaaaa bbbiiiiiittttttttttttttttttt oooofffffffffffffffffffffff wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwoooooorrrrkkkkk
I know I'll patent an idea of a device which is really small and can both blow and suck, and of course it'll use some kind of really small tubing moulded into the thin keyboard or something like that.
From what I can gather I don't actually need to provide information on how it actually works, just what it does.
Then when Apple realise they need something to do that then they'll have to pay me. Kaching!
Is that what they're for? With the amount of force you need to apply to press each key, I thought they were input devices for rock climbers looking to strengthen their forearms. Not to mention being loud enough that people in the office next door know every time you press a key.
That being said, it's the only keyboard I know of that doubles as a personal protection device.
Unlike this other for patent for "Graphical user interface for a display screen of a communications terminal"
No this one was not awarded to Apple, but to a well known company in Mountain View, California famous for it's search engine, dubious privacy concerns and an open source operating system for which you can't get the source.
"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"
It goes without saying, sir, that this device would also generate a Reality Distortion Field which would effortlessly reduce the volume of this pneumatic machinery. Furthermore, the hissing noises it generates will sound friendly and not snake-like.
Actually, all the technology to achieve this has already been invented and is in some cases already mature. Most of it will be based on MEMs (Micro Electro Mechanical Systems) which is basically technology which can implement moving parts on a microscopic scale, usually (but not always) implemented on silicon. Examples of these technologies:
MEMs pressure sensor:
MEMs ultrasonic transducer (could be used as a proximity sensor)
To me this is perfectly feasible, and could probably done in a cost effective way (thanks to economies of scale). The real question is why would you want to? a technology that sucks and blows.. well don't the big bad MS have the monopoly on that? :-)
How expensive will this make Apple keyboards? Their systems (particularly the laptops) are already highly priced. Longevity has already been raised as a concern (but then again, some have suggested they might be self cleansing), however more parts means more expensive and more things that can go wrong.
Maybe I'm a heathen but I don't see what is wrong with the tactile feedback in Apple's present keyboards. Yes I'm a touch-typist... not the fastest but I'm no seek-and-peck button pusher. Usually these low-profile keyboards are mainly used where space *is* limited such as on laptops. While some of us would love an IBM Model M style keyboard (buckling springs) on such a machine, there are many scenarios when such keyboards are inappropriate.
Day 1: New keyboard goes on sale.
Day 2: Tech-head disassembles keyboard, uprates the air compressor and fits a petrol engine - reveals a keyboard that can double as a self stabilizing hover-board when inverted.
Day 3: Massed rush to duplicate the hover-keyboard.
Day 4: First person arrives at work on hover-keyboard.
Day 5: First competition hover-keyboard typing contest where the contestants type documents by manoeuvring over a small bump in an otherwise flat surface.
Day 6: First death by hover-keyboard when rider flips in traffic.
Day 7: Government knee-jerk overreaction bans all keyboards of any ilk to protect the children.
Day 8: Unable to function because of the inability to use computers, society collapses.
It'll all end in tears.
A hose leading from the keyboard, to the users' mouth, blowing when more pressure is needed.
A suitable cushion of air within the keyboard helps guard the user against head injuries when their foreheads come slamming onto the desk after they pass out from all that blowing. Or sucking.
Like Bart Simpson said, "I didn't know something could suck and blow at the same time...".
But if this is something useful, then you can kiss goodbye to ever seeing it now, unless you restrict yourself to buying expensive PCs from Apple. If it's anything like their magnetic power connector patent[*], they won't be licensing it.
[*] Apple invented magnets, don't you see! Nevermind that even a 5 year old puts prior art on their parents' fridge...
If Apple applies for a patent on what could be an incremental improvement -- the magnetic power connector, say -- Mark 1 trolling is to scream "Prior art! My uncle's step-brother's cousin's third-grade teacher had a magnet YEARS ago!", while if they apply for a patent on something genuinely new and untried, Mark 2 trolling seems to require screaming that it'll never work because no one has made it work before.
I'd be curious to know under what circumstances Apple could apply for a patent and NOT get one of these Pavlovoan responses. (Actually, I expect that the answer is "None" -- some people simply appear to have too much of their emotional self-worth tied up in the "Apple SUX" battlecry to let that Apple bell ring without reflexively drooling... Sad, really.)
You got it all crooked. The patent is for an idea, anybody can come up with an idea (like matter transmission or invisibility cloaks). The hard part is in actually building the invention. Like the patent held on the automobile by George Selden (1846-1922), the idea drawn on paper and described in legalese is not enough (as Henry Ford proved).
IMHO if you patent it you had better darn well be actively trying to bring it into existence... else you're a stone in the shoe of progress, working to prevent civilization as a whole from moving forward.
If you did actively try to sell and bring your product to market (like say time-delayed windscreen wipers (just to keep the car analogy going)) and one of those who turned you down then manufactures and profits from your hard work (you should have a working prototype and they should have signed something to keep them honest) then you have every right to take them to task for stealing your work.
So in short Kudos to Apple for an actual invention, something that could be built. Now, make it work, as claimed, to improve the tactile feedback of slim devices. If you can't, then what is the point?
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