Thursday, March 02, 2006, 11:00 am PT (02:00 pm ET)
Apple employees file for wide touchpad patentSeveral Apple employees have collectively filed a patent request for a wide touchpad on a noteboook computer, where the palm rest areas of the portable would formed a said touchpad.
In the filing made on August 25, 2004 and published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday, Apple employees describe several examples of a "wide touchpad and keyboard" that would allow a user to interact with the display screen and enter data.
One description says the wide touchpad may be a cursor control device having the capabilities of conventional computer mouse, such as the ability to point, drag, tap, and double tap objects on a graphical user interface, as well as more general purposes such as scrolling, panning, zooming, and rotating images on display screen.
"The wide touchpad extends into the areas on the surface of the base assembly that are normally reserved for palm rest areas," the filing says. "In one embodiment, the touchpad possesses the ability to reject accidental contact when a user does not intend to activate the touchpad."
In another example, a sensor is disposed near the touchpad and keyboard of the portable computer to sense hand location of a user, and subsequently determine whether the touchpad contact is intentional or accidental.
"The touchpad responds properly by either recognizing the action on the touchpad or rejecting the action," the filing says. "As a result, the user is able to work efficiently, allowing for typing and cursor control operations to occur seamlessly."
Yet another example describes the touchpad as consisting of a two dimensional surface sensor that can detect one or more objects on the touchpad surface, and output information regarding the location, width, presence, and number of said objects, in a manner that can be interpreted by the computer system to generate cursor movement, or otherwise interpret a user's either intentional or unintentional input. Such an touchpad device may utilize capacitive sensing, the filing says.
"The surface of the touchpad may include a grid of conductive metal wires covered by an insulator. When two electrically conductive objects come near each other without touching, their electric fields interact to form capacitance. Also, when another conductive material, such as a human finger, comes in contact with the touchpad surface, a capacitance forms."
The patent filing — which is credited to several known Apple employees such as Bas Ording and Bartley Andre — goes on to list dozens of possible behaviors for a wide touchpad, including a device that would support "multiple or two-handed input."
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