And this is so earth shatteringly unique it requires a patent?
Actually, I hope this does NOT come to a keyboard near me soon. This long lever action is just asking for a pile up of dust and muck
Apple has filed a patent application for a key-travel design that it claims will allow for a "thin profile, aesthetically pleasing keyboard." Keyboard aesthetics, the filing claims, is of great importance because "outward appearance contributes to the overall impression that the user has of the computing device." Quite …
Exactly what i was thinking when I started reading it. Though had Clive SInclair gone for metorite instead of dead-flesh, maybe things would of been no different as they are now. Old IBM keyboards that could break bones if dropped on them were the best, although noisy they were just lovely.
Next Apple will patent a keyboard layout that is more effecient than the current QWERTY one :0.
I have an actual computer keyboard in front of me right now which works exactly the way described. It's in the front panel of a piece of equipment made in the 1970s and is obviously not meant to be typed on, more for pushing buttons to command the machine to do things. The key hinges are half an inch above the bit you press, but you do get a nice click action.
The icing on the cake is that the key caps are actually little transparent perspex windows which you can pop off with a suitable tool (watchmakers screwdriver) to customize the key legends, i.e with printed paper, slivers of wood, metal, meteorite, etc.
I wouldn't for an instant want to bet on Apple not getting awarded their patent though. (Twats.)
"As rounded corners serve no purpose bar aesthetics"
Rounded corners are part of engineering 101! The purpose they serve is to distribute stress and avoid concentrating it at a point. A sharp edge tends towards infinite stress under load, which is why they chip off so easily. My 'O' level technical drawing class covered this in 1984, and all exterior edges were to be drawn with a "radius" (i.e. rounded off).
My exact thought.
My granddad's typewriter which he "appropriated" from the retreating German army in 1944 works along the same principles.
Going to some newer examples I can recall several models of IBM electromechanical typewriters which retained the lever design to ensure that the typists got the same tactile feedback as a "real" typewriter. Some of these could be connected via an RS232 interface to a computer as a keyboard as well.
Funny, but I can't see the keys when I am using a keyboard because my fingers are in the way. I don't care how my keyboard LOOKS, I care how it WORKS. Can I reasonably touch-type? Heck, the Compaq keyboard I am using at work is so mushy compared to the Model M I have at home that it really does slow my typing down.
This reminds me of the old Gallager joke about scented toilet paper: Why? who will this impress? My thumb?
The sad thing is that people buy their stuff primarily on how they look. This goes for everything, mobile phones, apartments, cars, clothes, food etc. In some cases the primary function of the stuff does not even factor in as a buy criteria.
This is why there are colours on the box, which leads to a pet theory of mine:
"The quality of a product is inverse proportional to the number of colours on the box it comes in."
Yes, people do make judgements on how things look- ultimately, life is too short to make controlled tests of everything we might think of buying, so we go with looks. Granted, these assumptions can by cynically used against us - what Pirsig called "All shit with a thin veneer of quality". However: If a product can be made with taste and restraint and good judgement on the outside, it is more likely that the same CAN be implemented on the inside. Likewise, if we see a member of the opposite sex who looks well put together on the outside, we are more likely to believe that their genetic machinery is in good working order throughout.
There are reasons why we judge on appearances. As Oscar Wilde remarked: "Only shallow people refuse to judge on appearances". He was only being ironic because he cared.
Indeed, Oscar also had a few things to say about Honesty of Materials. One can see that honesty in Dieter Rams' work, and that of Sir Jonny, be it honesty to injection moulded plastics or to extruded aluminium. 'Polished Meteorite' would not fall into this category, but it was being used as an EXAMPLE to illustrate how broad that facet of the concept could be.
Compare that to the typical PC case-front of the late 90s: Superfluous plasti-chrome mouldings with arbitrary curves that do nothing but take up space and make the ports and drives more difficult to access than they should be, whilst wasting plastic and the time of a tool maker.
If you don't think things should be beautiful, or be used as tools to make other things more beautiful, then we must agree to disagree.
It is not really what I said. First of all, I didn't really comment on what things should be like, I commented on what people think they should be like. Second, I have no problem with, and have not said anything to suggest that, things being beautiful. In fact I prefer things to be beautiful. You see, beautiful things tend to be more pleasing to the eye. I have however come to terms with what I regard as beauty differs from the opinion of the majority, but I digress.
What I do mean however, even though I didn't say it in my post, is that function should be more important than form when judging a product/tool. Or at the very least, equally important.
I do think we disagree though. If drag in Oscar Wilde to justify buying products not because they serve our needs, but because the manufacturer made it "shiny", then I feel we disagree on a lot of things. I am perfectly alright with that (see smiley face).
Form and function are not two separate things - they have to work together. Bad form makes excellent function impossible to use; bad function on good form takes us back to the "thin veneer on shit" quote.
Suitably geeky folks can get around bad form, but geeky folks make up a tiny minority of the purchasing public.
Incorrect Sir! function does not have to be impeded by lact of pleasing aesthetics.
There are many examples of this, I'll just give you two examples an IT angle and non.
I.T. angle: my usb memory stick on which the casing got smashed. I wrapped the pcb in string and insulation tape, it looks crap but still functions as well as before, if not better since it's new housing takes up less space so it fits better around other devices.
non-IT angle: cleaning staff at work are particularly unattractive individuals, however my desk is shiny and clean in the morning and the floors freshly mopped.
However both your point and my two counterpoints are completely invalidated by the much more important fact that the definition of "good form" is entirely subjective to the aesthetic preferences of the individual appreciating them.
Sigh, I have not said you have to choose either or, in fact I have repeatedly said the exact opposite. However, it seems that the finer points of the English language eludes me once again. When I talk about function I also include ease of use etc. And when I talk about form as the opposite to function I talk about everything that does not have a "function". So the colour of an ambulance have a very important function, but the gray colour on a private car usually does not have a function and is thus part of the form.
If this is incorrect usage of the terms in English I apologize. If you continue to hold it against me, sue me, I am Norwegian.*
*That does make the apology sound bitter and sarcastic. Here have another smiley face.
I like things to work well. But a lot of what is considered functional design is just a styling trope. A better name for it would be "functionesque".
Ask anybody who occupies a 1950s "machine for living in" (le Corbusier) with a flat roof how functional it is. Check out all the "functional" 1960s buildings that are now rightly being demolished because they're inefficient, uncomfortable and badly-made. Try spending any length of time sitting in a Barcelona chair (Perhaps I'm being unfair here - Mies van der Rohe was apparently horrified to learn that people wanted to sit in them. He designed them as chairs for looking at.) You see many examples in the kitchen, where homely implements that have evolved to do a job are stylishly redesigned so they don't work very well, like the Philippe Starck lemon squeezer.
Dave 126 wrote :- "Yes, people do make judgements on how things look- ultimately, life is too short to make controlled tests of everything we might think of buying, so we go with looks"
Yes, but the judgement is often made on features of the appearance that clearly can have nothing to do with performance - or go against it.
My fave example is loo-roll holders. Once-upon-a-time they were held directly to the wall by two strong screws. You could put your weight on them (I gather my mother did). But even though the screws could be nice chrome-plated pozidriv's, very tasteful I thought, people started replacing them with ones having concealed screws, which people tell me "looks nicer".
The concealed screw versions typically have a single tiny plate screwed to the wall onto which the outer visible part fixes with a little grub screw tightened from underneath. Half the time they wobble about (still looks nice?) and with any stress they come off the wall altogether (as my mother demonstrates).
Even worse, today we have the "half-a-coat-hanger" style, which people think looks nice because of the "minimalist" theme, even though, in the loos of modern small houses, when a fat lady goes in she knocks the paper roll off and onto the floor - or straight into the pan.
...for Putting Things on Top of Other Things
Have they included fossilised T.Rex leg-bone keytops in the list? If not, I think I see an opening on the market...
The Sholes and Glidden typewriter, initial design 1867, eventually placed on the market as the
Remington 1 in 1874 by gunsmiths Remington & Sons who were trying to diserfiy from arms manafacture.
There are several disturbing aspects to this patent, it claims that prior to this so-called invention that all keys were made of plastic, is this an attempt by crApple to patent non-plastic keys?
The patent desribes a membrane keyboard (how very ZX81), levers which can either rotate about a pivot point or be made of bendy material, and gluing the key to the lever !!!!!!!
US patent law imposes a duty upon the patent applicant to disclose all known prior art references that would be material to the patent applicatyion, these include:-
* Printed publications anywhere in the world.
* Known or used by others in the US.
* Patented outside the US.
* Described in a published US patent application.
* Described in a granted US patent.
* Described in a published PCT patent application designating the US.
* In public use in the US.
* Sold or offered for sale in the US.
Still, when did prior art bother crApple?
I'm sure the old joystick I had back in Spectrum days seemed very similar to this - it had metal domes on strips of copper that were pressed from above by plastic arms attached to the joystick itself. I found that out when I pulled it apart after the metal domes started to split through wear and tear..
IIRC these were leaf switched joysticks, pretty much the cheapest joysticks you could get and the least resilient.
Us hardened gamers soon tired of the fragility of these sticks and went for micro switched models instead. Although microswitched model still wore out, a switch would tend to totally fail about a month after it went out of warrenty where as leaf switched joysticks would just deteriorate without usually totally breaking.
Well seeing as its from crApple it will be touted by the fanbois as a must have product.
My question is this though...don't we already have coverings over they keys currently? I believe they are typically made of plastic and sometimes painted with the letters and numbers on them...
So am I now, or soon to be, in violation or apples amazing new patent for the G19 I use at hole or the standard keyboard at work?
In addition to other options for key coverings check out the following link....
No, it is nothing like a telegraph / morse key - as you can clearly see in that photo, the standard design of a morse key has a partially balanced beam with a pivot-point fairly near to the centre. Apple's design is much more like _some_ typewriter keyboards, in having the pivot at the extreme far end.
I think you got it wrong. From what I can see they are virtually identical, even going so far as mentioning that it makes the keyboard more aesthetically pleasing and slimmer in profile. The thing is, just because apple or anyone else files a patent doesn't mean it is valid. One of the reasons why it takes so long for patent approval is that the patent office needs to review and verify the uniqueness of the application before it can be granted. I suspect Apple, MS, Google and others routinely have hundreds of patents denied each year. This will be one of them.
Nope. That's not the same patent at all. The one you refer to is describing a means for storing the keyboard in a low profile position. Not having it as a permanently slim keyboard that will function in that way. The patent you refer to would mean in normal operation the keys would pop up so they could be used.
As always, RTFM.
From some of comments (synth keys, telegraph keys) it's clear not many actually read the patent and just went with the picture here, only one of the pictures in the actual patent.
Here's a PDF link which may help (the images on the USPTO site tend to only work on Windows)
@+++ath0 If you read up on the history of the telegraph key you will see the original idea was 16 of those keys side by side in a very similar arrangement. Oh and the invention was stolen by a Brit, then a Yank.
I do appreciate the freepatent reference. Thats good stuff, but it in no way invalidates the previous observations. Cheers.
"Well everything’s stolen nowadays. Why the fax machine is nothing but a waffle iron with a phone attached."
They're in TIFF compression G4; not the most common nowadays, but sort of makes sense for that kind of use. See http://www.digitalpreservation.gov/formats/fdd/fdd000024.shtml
From the patent office website:
"For the Apple Macintosh®, Apple's freely distributed Quicktime version 4.1 works with our images. It is linked from our "Document Formats" Web page."
Should I patent the "ugly MoFo" keyboard then?
How about we patent a keyboard because IT WORKS differently than other keyboards, and that design difference enables the keyboard to be aesthetically pleasing?
In other news, I have decided to patent the color blue, because I always thought that it was aesthetically pleasing......
I have an old single key that works like that. It's a telegraph key. As others note, 60 to 104 of these have been miniaturised and put in a skinny box before.
Mine's not from the 1800s. But 1940s, just like the J38 on wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telegraph_key
I guess it must be common
I have a cunning plan. I will release it to the world, for free, but if you use this and make yourself megabucks please push a little my way as I'd love a netbook that can do HD without having a hernia.
Okay, the USPO doesn't seem to understand prior art, so get something patented, like say a portable tablet with rounded corners.
Then go to that East District Texas (whatever its called...) and sue everybody in sight. Because your business is "devising innovations in the user interface paradigm" (read: doing very little), it hurts you to see a certain other company trying to extort money for their claim of *your* patent. Luckily that court in Texas tends to favour he who kicks first (plus demonstrably ignoring prior art), so you'll be on to a winner. The only sticking point will be that these wilful malicious damages will be too damaging to express in monetary form. Times three for intent.
There you go. Make the system work for you...
A piano has keys that are arranged in multiple horizontal rows offset from one another, in which each key is affixed to a cantilever that is anchored to a pivot at one end and comes into contact with a rounded metal dome on the other?
Honestly, does ANYONE actually read the patent before commenting, rather than just the summary of the patent in the article? FFS, the link is right there in the middle of the article itself!
Well, how about you try to understand it instead of just reading... Her, try:
"A piano has keys that are arranged in multiple horizontal rows offset from one another, in which each key is affixed to a cantilever that is anchored to a pivot at one end and comes into contact with a rounded metal dome on the other?"
Piano keybord has all of that ("multiple horizontal rows offset from one another" - black and white key, organ even has miltiples of those; " in which each key is affixed to a cantilever that is anchored to a pivot at one end" - hell, yeah!) minus "rounded metal dome" - so, "rounded metal dome" worth a patent?
save that in a morse key, the leaver is part of the circuit while in apple's idea the leaver must then press a dome-switch.
For the avoidance of doubt in the case of people mentioning the 'uniqueness' of apple's 0.2mm of travel, the correct tuned distance of travel for a morse key is just enough to break the circuit reliably, as adjusted by user preference. Probably less than 0.2mm in many cases.
Mine's the one with the morse-tutor course on the MP3 player in the pocket...
...one-day I'll actually make the time daily to finish that.
No, no, non, nyet, nah, negatory.
You're suggesting that we read the patent submission and then engage in a reasoned discussion of its technical merits. That's not how it works here. Instead, the article title goes direct to the hardwired bigotry nodes of the commenter's brain, short-circuiting any of that reasoning stuff. That's why any discussions of patents on the Reg are guaranteed to have a noise/signal ration rather than vice versa.
Basically, for any patent:
- it's been done before ('We had this on the Babbage Engine I apprenticed on...')
- the submitters are a bunch of con artists
- the US patent system is stupid (regardless of which country the patent has been submitted in)
Please use the above template for any future posts about patents.
Ha ha ha ha. I can't recall a single comments section where the anti-patent brigade has ever bothered to read the patent. (RTFP.)
Any attempt to encourage them to do so is either ignored or gets abuse in response.
There's LOTS wrong with the patent systems round the world but shrieking in ignorance isn't going to solve any of them.
> It's a bit more complicated than ' keyboards where the keys are on levers'.
Erm no sir it ain't. As made perfectly clear by the title and the abstract of the patent application, it exactly _only_ that. All the rest is pseudo-technical fluff as required by any patent application, such as step-by-step description of the operation of the device, vaguer-than-vague proposed manufacturing procedure, precise description of common knowledge operating parts (just in case anyone would wonder how a pivot operates, or what a lever is) etc.
So this patent application appears to take 3 existing ideas and combine them into a single design:
1. Metal dome contacts have been around for yonks, however they are usually located under a membrane.
2. Lever switches as used in telegraph keys
3. Customisable key caps to be 'aesthetically pleasing'
Individually each of these would fall foul of prior art,. I'm no patent expert so would the combination of the 3 ideas be patentable ???
* Assuming you mean a shiny metallic one, and not one that just looks like a lump of roadstone.
The problem is rust!
Meteorites are not good at being handled, and rust easily. Meteorite slices are best oiled and kept out of humidity to avoid decomposition.
So, neat but utterly impractical.
...and the piano keys design. And for reference I'll invoke Tom and Jerry cartoons, specifically one where Jerry goes inside the piano and brakes off 2 'hammers' and one-ups Tom by playing faster and better.
Keeping noise/sign ratio high.
Friday afternoons, y'know.
What's next? Will some idiotic bureaucracy allow patenting of fingertips? Will I be sued for using mine without paying royalties?
We're allowing greed to suck all creativity and joy out of life in exchange for giving 5% of the species 95% of the wealth. No person or organization should be permitted to "own" an idea to this degree of specificity, and possession of "intellectual property" should be limited to a modest portion of a human lifetime.
"Mine!" is not a fact, a reasoned argument, a supportable conclusion, or a reason for existence and those who behave otherwise are a menace to themselves and everyone else. The seagulls in "Finding Nemo" were not admirable, and neither are the people who behave like them. The apotheosis of wealth is suicide.
An hysterical race over the edge of every cliff is the inevitable outcome of living in a world where ownership of everything is assigned to whoever gets there first. Theft is the only ethical response to cultures which define reasonable profit as the most you can get away with.
The next time you hear someone shouting "Mine!," take a moment to steal a copy of whatever they're clutching so fanatically.
the zx80 and 81 had membrane keyboards, the zx spectrum had dead flesh keyboards the QL had hard plastic keys, and later versions of spectrum had them too.
as for meteroites as keyboards or filler, they may need to protect parts in pc/laptop as meteroites have a magnetic field be it small. they also can rust if iron in them unless protected.
I collect them as a hobby.
It could only come from the Cupertino ranch.
Anyone remember the old HP calculators with the plastic lever keys striking a PCB domed click switch? What about some of those Nokia phones, with the same arrangement.
Ok, so there was no trace of polished meteorite, or anything else other than dried snot and other human excremental grime over plastic covering those puppies, but hell, how obvious does it have to be that you can dress a monkey in a suit (or anything else you care to mention, off the top of your head), but not call it the new chief executive of Apple Corp?
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