back to article YES YES YES! Apple patents mousy, pressure-sensing iVibrator

Apple has been granted a patent for a vibrating mouse which will respond to fanbois' hamfisted affections using advanced pressure sensing technology. Sadly, the "Force Sensing Mouse" will not turn Appleytes into Jedi knights, but it may allow them to navigate their computers into hitherto unfamiliar ways. Currently, the Apple …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "If it ends up in a product, the new patent will..."

    That is the problem with the US patent system right there.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "If it ends up in a product, the new patent will..."

      So patents should require being in a product to be enforceable? Good luck to the little guy who figures out how to build a working fusion reactor that is only energy positive in gigawatt scale power plants, I guess!

      At any rate, while there is a lot of room for fair criticism of Apple suing over people using the patented technology/design in their products (and the quality of those patents) one thing Apple never does is sue over patents they hold that they aren't using in products.

      They don't want people copying their work, but they don't really seem to give a damn about someone copying their work if they don't think it is worthy of inclusion in their own products.

  2. CaptainBanjax

    rule 34

    See above.

    1. TitterYeNot

      Re: rule 34

      Vibrating mouse pron? Thanks, now I need therapy, and won't be able to watch Tom and Jerry ever again...

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Ho Ho Hipster

    Haptic vibrations

    "It allows users to press down on any part of the device and then detects how much pressure they are applying by responding to haptic vibrations."

    Responding /with/ haptic vibrations, surely?

    Haptic refers to a feedback, i.e. output, mechanism.

    Or else it responds /to/ sensors: inputs.

    1. Ken Darling

      Re: Haptic vibrations

      "Haptic refers to a feedback, i.e. output, mechanism."

      You know that, I know that. But this is The Register the 'journalists' for whom really don't understand tech, let alone how to write English.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. frank ly

      Re: 1 step closer to their goal

      That would have made a great sub-heading joke.

    2. MyffyW Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: 1 step closer to their goal

      It's tempting to say they risk entering a crowded market place and may find it difficult to stand out.

      [I am, of course, speaking in a general sense. No personal experience should be inferred]

  6. ThomH Silver badge

    Maybe it's a massaging feature...

    ... to help relieve the RSI that's inevitable from using an Apple mouse.

    The 'Magic' Trackpad is pure genius, however.

  7. psychonaut

    so just like...

    i once put the flywheel counter weight in 180 degrees out on my single cylinder honda 100 motorbike. i know all about haptic feedback. it was like trying to ride a horny rhinoceros on speed during an earthquake.

    why the fuck would you want this in a mouse?

    youve just clicked this, BBBZZZZT

    i know ive just clicked it! i fucking clicked it and it did something. know you know youve just clicked the thing you just clicked.

    i know i fucking know it! aarrghh! kill! kill!

    1. Michael Thibault

      Re: so just like...

      >i once put the flywheel counter weight in 180 degrees out on my single cylinder honda 100 motorbike. i know all about haptic feedback...

      >why the fuck would

      anyone design a drive train so that it was even possible to mis-install a single part--let alone the flywheel counter-weight--incorrectly at all?

      1. dkjd

        Re: so just like...

        Maybe making the rotating parts of the drive chain from asymmetrical components would mean that bits of it would wear out quicker?

      2. psychonaut

        Re: so just like...

        ive no idea. had to take the whole bloody thing apart again to sort it out.

      3. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: so just like...

        >why the fuck would anyone design a drive train so that it was even possible to mis-install a single part--let alone the flywheel counter-weight--incorrectly at all?

        In several cases Honda appears to have made some last-minute design changes only after Friday Afternoon Sake Hour. Resulting in parts, from two similar motorcycle models, that look identical but aren't for no discernible reason.

        That said, I once mounted the flywheel on my BMW boxer 1/5 rotation off. To its credit, it even ran acceptably with the ignition advance cranked all the way to compensate for this (which resulted in about 20 degrees late ignition). But those engines, I've witnessed, also run OK on diesel.

    2. Zack Mollusc

      Re: so just like...

      Hahaha, I did the same thing with a 250 Superdream. Whilst ticking over on the centre stand it wandered all over the concrete patio (well, concrete back yard).

  8. smartypants

    It's that featureless mouse thing again!

    We had one of these appear in the office a few years ago. No buttons. But apparently you could stroke it or press various bits of it to get it do do magical things (if you were in the KNOW of course!)

    It was connected to a desktop mac whose method of turning on was to feel around the back of the telly for a telltale indentation which people IN THE KNOW would know about. Ditto if you wanted to plug your USB stick in.

    To me, this seems like bad design. Who wants to read a manual to find out where the bloody on-switch is?

    Now, those people IN THE KNOW will be gurning like pilchards at the comfort of knowing that their haptic doo-daa, if caressed in the special way, will do a triple click (I'm not imagining that am I? I think that was actually another apple solution to the problem of them deigning to have just a single mouse button back in days of old).

    1. psychonaut

      Re: It's that featureless mouse thing again!

      just, in the name of everything, put 2 buttons on the mouse (hell, have 3 if you want). so that they have a differentiation between them. a physical line, thats all the i need, my fingers have inbuilt haptic feedback, so my fingers can feel what im pressing.

      i know which one ive pushed. because i pushed it!

      but dont..

      1) put stupid buttons on the side of the mouse that zoom in or out or click the back button on your browser because you will ONLY ever push this by mistake, or you will get a phone call and have to remote in to someones machine to fix their fucking mouse, THEIR MOUSE, to stop them from going insane

      2) make no differentiation whatsoever about which bit youve clicked or touched or brushed up against or accidentally stroked

      1. Red Bren
        Thumb Down

        Stupid buttons on the side of the mouse

        @ psychonaut

        My mouse has stupid buttons on the left side, but because I drive my computer left handed (not because I'm sinister) they are out of the way of my thumb and forgotten about. But your post has prompted me to discover their purpose and they are indeed just for going forwards/backwards through browsing history. I guess that's why the southpaws aren't up in arms [sorry] at this dexterous favouritism

        1. Hellcat

          Re: Stupid buttons on the side of the mouse

          You can probably set the extra buttons to do whatever you want, but that means installing the mouse software.

          Mine's the one with the RAT5 in the pocket.

        2. psychonaut

          Re: Stupid buttons on the side of the mouse

          im glad to have introduced you to a new level or irritation.

          you can usually change the function of these buttons. <do nothing> is the best setting IMO.

          by the way, if you arent sinister, why do you drive it left handed? are you a masochist? in which case, there may be a setting you might like for those extra buttons....look for <random> ...happy masocating!

        3. stanimir

          Re Red Bren

          Why don't you buy mouse with buttons on the right side, if you are left handed?

          The buttons are actually programmable with the right driver, so you can use them for other tasks. Personally I find the side buttons useful even though I don't use the mouse much at all - like scrolling with spacebar (down), shift+spacebar (up).

        4. P. Lee

          Re: Stupid buttons on the side of the mouse

          My mouse's side-buttons generally do "reload weapon" and not much else.

          But then, my Dell monitor has USB ports on the side as well as the back. That is the same place where Apple had the really good idea in 2009 to put the DVD drive on my wife's imac. Sadly, they've taken stupid design to new heights and are removing more and more functions. The driver appears to be to prevent ripping CD's, thus fueling itunes sales. I hate that. If I need an extra box on the desk, it'll be a really cheap one that isn't from Apple and I'll just put it away when I don't need it.

          Also, with my Dell screen, I have my back to a full wall of glass windows and there isn't a reflection to be seen.

          I wonder if anyone in China is making VESA cases for the mac mini? Off to fleabay...

    2. Chas

      Re: It's that featureless mouse thing again!

      Thirty seconds of instruction (remember RTFM!) and you'd have no problem. Or are you so averse to learning new ways because you're so mired in an ancient mindset? For the further edification of Luddites, Apple have instructional videos built into the mouse's Preference settings that show you how to use every gesture.

      There was a time where we bashed away at a command line and the mouse was a new-fangled thing. We take them for granted now but that does not mean that there's no room for improvement. Personally, you can take my Magic Mouse from my cold dead hands!

      Welcome (finally) to the 21st century.


      1. psychonaut

        Re: It's that featureless mouse thing again!

        chas...chas...calm down mate, no-ones going to take the shiny thing away from you. its fine, really. you can keep it. theres a reason that the command line still exists, and so do normal mice. they work. they are useful. they do their job, nothing more, nothing less, and enable you to do the things you want without doing the things you dont want.they have reached a pinnacle of "mousey-ness". i dont do graphic design or game, so i really, really dont need anything other than a mouse.

        thats a mouse...yes ....over here please, with 2 buttons, hold the vibrator. i dont need a skinny frappuchino latte with menthol and a shot of caramel.

        you can have one if you want - its OK!

      2. Michael Thibault

        Re: It's that featureless mouse thing again!

        >Apple have instructional videos built into the mouse's Preference settings that show you how to use every gesture.

        Bastards! Evil bastards!

        1. Ho Ho Hipster

          Re: It's that featureless mouse thing again!

          >Apple have instructional videos built into the mouse's Preference settings that show you how to use every gesture.

          Not the gesture that comes to mind when encountering yet another example of Think Different [sic] Because You're Worth It, even when different = plain, posily crass.

          Or am clicking in the wrong place to find the "Deploying the One- / Two-fingered F**k O** Apple Salute" video?

      3. smartypants

        My ancient mindset explained

        1) Honestly, you oughtn't need to RTFM to turn a machine on. My very first apple computer (a mac plus) forced you to feel round the back of the telly too. The original iMac which saved Apple had a power button on the front. Sticking it round the back again is just silly. Apple's designers sensibly put an obvious power button on to the front of the macbook pro, and that machine doesn't look bad does it? But just to show that they can still be idiots, they made the macbook air power button part of its keyboard!

        This isn't rocket science. We don't need to be making such silly design mistakes in the 21st century. Apple isn't the only culprit of course. I'm typing this on a Sony Vaio whose power button is integrated into the hinge. Yes, not on the front or on the back, but on the hinge. Genius! (not). What next? A power button operated by drawing your finger around the edge of the screen? (Probably patented).

        2) I like objects that are pleasing to the eye, but their form shouldn't compromise function. A lovely glass vase is no good if it leaks water. A 2 grand desktop computer shouldn't faithfully reflect the room back at you, requiring you to pull down all the blinds to get anything done. When I and a colleague are both looking at something together on this machine, all we can see is each other's faces. I am quite ugly so this interferes with productivity.

        Now I'd be the first to accept that such sentiments are 'old-fashioned', and in the 21st century, perhaps people are more welcoming of, rather than irritated by the little challenges that poorly-designed machines introduce into their lives.

        Perhaps wheels ought not to be circular anymore, but instead, an octagon? Luddites like me would of course moan about the the compromised function, but circular is boring and an octagonal wheel certainly stands out from the crowd. If you pay the designer enough, and octagonal wheel users are charged a healthy premium by the wheelwright, then no doubt we'll find enough people to defend the slightly knobbly ride and uneven wear characteristics!

      4. James Micallef Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: It's that featureless mouse thing again!

        chas is 100% right that anyone complaining about how to use it is silly, RTFM and all that.

        The other main point people above seem complaning about is that this mouse is unwanted/accidental input, and I agree the thing should NOT be too sensitive to the slightest pressure, or too sensitive to varying degrees of pressure, but otherwise what's teh problem? If you want to use it in traditional click/no-click on/off button clicks you still can. If you can use it for more advanced stuff, more power to you.

        Lastly, the complaints about haptic feedback (assuming the 'haptic' in the article means feedback, the article is unclear). Current mice already give haptic feedback, you can feel the button depressing when clicked and return to the usual state when 'unclicked'. You ALREADY get a little nudge that indicates 'you've clicked something', but we're so used to it that it isn't even noticed. IF this is well implemented, it won't change a thing.

        All in all, the idea seems quite sound to me, note that I am not making any comment on the applicability of a patent (for all I know could be tons of prior art etc), nor the ultimate implementation (which could be OK, great or crap, what is 100% sure with Apple is that it will look nice)

      5. John 104

        Re: It's that featureless mouse thing again!


        How about welcome to the 90s? Multi button mice have been pretty standard in the PC world since for ever. And they work fantastic. No need to fix what isn't broken. Or, you could "invent" the new mouse and make it far too complex on the inside (huge potential for breakage) and far too complex for the average user to be bothered to figure out and sell it for a fortune to the iMasses.

      6. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: It's that featureless mouse thing again!

        For the further edification of Luddites, Apple have instructional videos built into the mouse's Preference settings that show you how to use every gesture.

        Which you need the mouse for to navigate to.

        I see a bit of a problem right there.

        1. ThomH Silver badge

          Re: It's that featureless mouse thing again! (@Stoneshop)

          It shows up the first time you pair the mouse with the computer. Automatically. No interaction required.

          Which, yes, is like those annoying applications that force you through a tutorial because they're insufficiently easy to figure out.

    3. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: It's that featureless mouse thing again!

      Find the power button by using your eyes, probably only once. No need to read the manual any more than you had to read the manual to figure out where to plug the monitor into your desktop PC.

      Ports round the back are an awful idea for USB-like things that are likely to be plugged in and unplugged frequently (you know, versus things like monitors). I feel like Apple has stumbled into the problem — when the ports first headed round the back, the keyboards were still wired and had USB ports directly on them. So no need to touch the main computer at all. Then the wireless keyboard became the default and the fumbling began. Never mind the risk of scratching the machine with the USB device. More design thought required, I think. The sides would have been a good solution but Apple has collapsed those to being about 5mm wide so that option's out.

      Clicking on text:

      • single click places the cursor;

      • double click selects a word;

      • triple click selects a paragraph.

      If you don't know about triple click then you can stick with manually locating paragraph bounds and clicking and dragging over the whole thing, in much the same way that, whether a Windows or Mac user, you can use File->Save instead of pressing [Control/Command]+S. It's just less convenient.

    4. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: It's that featureless mouse thing again!

      People IN THE KNOW forget about the Apple mouse and buy a cheap Logitech.

      All this time since the hockey puck and Apple mice are still unreliable and unusable (you have to hold it uncomfortably and you end up pressing the side buttons when you don't want to). I assume someone else has the patent on usable mice which is why Apple won't do it. Now they're going to add haptic feedback to an already crappy design just to fuck up your RSI even more I suppose.

    5. Ho Ho Hipster

      Re: It's that featureless mouse thing again!

      "To me, this seems like bad design"

      Anyone not encased in the hype-field knows that Apple does bad design, as well as good design, just as everyone else does.

      I've just carefully wrapped Sellotape around another part of my iPad charging cable where it's starting another split in its oh-so-beautifully-thin-ness. I haven't had to do that to a non-Apple cable for many, many years. It's not the only example of "well designed" form over poorly designed function.

      I imagine that if Apple had really been the supreme creator of the whole universe they would have made beautiful swifts (*) that were thinner than the thinnest size zero model but fell out of the sky on their maiden flight. And acolytes would have bowed before the pure genius of the Swift-Emperor's New Feathers.

      (*) Birds that spend all of their lives, except for the new-bird-making process, on the wing; that fly just above a river surface, executing many high speed turns and catching tiny insects in ways that make Tom Cruise's Maverick look like a tyro.

    6. John 104

      Re: It's that featureless mouse thing again!


      OMG, it wasn't just me. I had to set up an iMac a while back for a client. Mostly I've managed his iPad and phones, but he decided to pick one of these things up. It took me far too long to figure out how to turn the damned thing on. Had to flip it on its face to find the beautifully recessed power button. So beautifully recessed it can't be felt by hand! Ridiculous. Then it was on to the "Magic Trackpad". Seriously. Who the fuck thinks up these names?

  9. Levente Szileszky

    iBrator... the right name.

  10. This post has been deleted by its author

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A company called gpod already released the ivibrator is 2007 ggessh.

  12. Truth4u

    apple want the mouse to be a painful item

    with negative associations to the user of slowness, acceleration that goes from 0.01 to 0.99 as soon as the cursor reaches the button you want to click and then flies right past etc etc. I think apple really want us dead. soon they will sell a computer that will kill its owner and present a new version of their will giving all money to APPLE who will use it to design a square mouse for people who only have 3 fingers but due to a farm accident the fingers have been stretched to 8 inches long and each one is sticking out on a different axis. and that will be a genuinely patentable item too but they will patent some stupid aspect of it like "patent to make a product the colour white and put it in a white box" omg such design genius patent granted.

    1. P. Lee

      Re: apple want the mouse to be a painful item

      Apple's theme song:

      We do what we must because we can,

      For the good of all of us, except the ones who are dead,

      But there's no point crying over every mistake,

      We'll just keep on trying 'til we run out of cake...

  13. DryBones

    This reminds me of...

    One of my senior projects for undergrad. Combining a strain gauge and normal optical tracking to cut the amount of motion needed to move the cursor while still maintaining the full control that a mouse gives you. A nice thing if you don't want to set the sensitivity so twitching snaps your cursor to the far side of the screen, and you haven't got a ton of space to be scrolling way over to the side. Also less lift-and-place while circle-strafing the boss (in game, though it might be against your boss!).

  14. psychonaut

    hp laptop keyboards

    i don't know how they've managed, but most hp laptop keyboards these days have the caps lock key protruding into the rest of the keyboard, so if you are used to using a normal keyboard, you hit it by mistake alL tHE FucKING TiMe, its unbelievably irritating. why do people do this crap?

    shift + f3 has never been so usefull.

  15. SVV

    Just bought a new mouse from Maplin

    Optical thingy with 2 buttons and a scroll wheel, 8 quid, ergonomic shape and nice to use

    I doubt that the price of this Apple nonsense will be anywhere near as low, and given Apple's stupidly long resistance to concepts like a mouse with more than one button, the iMouse should fail badly but probably won't because generic USB devices are for sad losers who don't even have a beard, Right?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Just bought a new mouse from Maplin

      You forgot about the turtleneck shirt.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. DwarfPants

    Tap to click is more than enough for me

    Seems to be designed for heavy handed use, the light touch results in clicking all over the place. The first thing to switch off.

  17. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Now the computer handshake

    has a buzzer so it can play practical jokes on users.

    I can image a lot of these getting broken when hurled across the room in surprise.

  18. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

    A very poorly written article.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A very poorly written comment.

  19. Velv

    Prior Art

    The Heart Of Gold spaceship had motion sensing controls, and that's simply all this device does - detect motion through changes in pressure.

  20. Darryl

    Those suckers will eat a pair of AA batteries in record time, judging by how fast the current ones go through them.

  21. Pez92

    I see they're taking the "design first, justify later" approach to inventing. I guess brute force will yield a good idea if applied enough times.

  22. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge
    Paris Hilton


    One more thing that is going to generate error messages if I handle it the wrong way.

  23. This post has been deleted by its author

  24. Crazy Operations Guy

    A mouse that gves you dozens of ways to interact with the machine

    But you still have to hold down a key on the keyboard to right-click...

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