Breaking: Apple Files Touchscreen Mouse Patent

There are plenty of reasons not to like Apple, but even the most emotional Apple-haters among us have to admit that some of the best ideas for future computing devices come out of Apple's labs. The USPTO just published a July 14, 2009 patent filing by Apple, which describes a complex mouse that could hint to a departure from the traditional one-button Apple mouse.

Not only does the patent filing describe a mouse that has three main mouse buttons (left, middle, right), but also an integrated glass surface/touchscreen in the area where the palm of your hand usually rests. In Apple's words, we are talking about an "an interface to communicate user interactions to a host system and a display assembly to display an image to a user. In some examples, the display device will include a collimated glass component. A method is disclosed that includes displaying an image at an input device, such as a mouse, and then displaying a second image in response to a user input through the input device."   

We are already seeing iPhone being used as input devices via apps and Bluetooth connectivity. Now it seems that Apple is going the other way as well. The company imagines a touchscreen area that can be configured in many ways. For example, it could provide the features of a "personal digital assistant, a mobile telephone, a mouse, a graphics pad, a keyboard, and other input devices." A mouse that can double as the keypad of your mobile phone? If you think about it, that could be a pretty handy feature when you are sitting on your desk.    

The configuration of the icons will be configured automatically, according to Apple. The touchscreen may either respond to specific user actions or to system events. "The host system may initiate changes to the displayed icons (or other images) in response to inputs provided to the host system (opening a new program or file, selecting a function, etc.), and the inputs provided through the input device re-mapped in accordance with the displayed images," the filing reads. "In analogous example, the input device itself might reconfigure one or more displayed images in response to user inputs."

An intriguing idea.

  • alikum
  • BulkZerker
    Rotten Apples!
  • mister g
    Just thinking, the patent office has a backlog of several years so when you apply for a patent it could be several years before it's approved. So is the article saying that they just filed one or had it been given to them after several years of processing?
  • dman3k
    basically, apple took another invention and applied a few more words to the end of the patent to create a new patent... apple now patented a touchscreen "on a mouse"... numpad "on a mouse"... phone "on a mouse".
  • zachary k
    i would say Apple is evil, but my beloved Microsoft does the same thing. it's just the nature of the beast.
  • notanakin
    Well, I suppose this is a step up for a company that sells a one-button mouse that needs workarounds to get a right-click.
  • NovemberWind
    Wait a sec... So Apple needed a patent and many impractical (my opinion, based on the picture) additional buttons before they were willing to consider more than a single button for their mouse? How very... Apple.
  • djmcg
    That's an interesting idea. Part of the article is misleading though. Apple is upping Microsofts mouse, but Microsoft's Arc Touch Mouse was just upping Apple's Magic Mouse with the additional feature of flexible curving. It was Apple that came up with the touch sensitive mouse idea. The article leads one to imply otherwise.
  • @notanakin: Considering every mouse they currently sell has the ability to right-click, that's not exactly something new to apple. But thanks for giving your opinion without using one!
    @dman3k: Ivention, not really. Innovation, definitley. If I can have my phone on a dock as I sit at my desk, and place a call without taking it off the dock, it really is more intuitive. Keep it up, Apple.
    By the way, I'm not some Apple fanboy; but when you can simplify such a task and simplify lives in the process, then I'll promote your products too.
  • Benihana