Apple Wins Patent for Pressure-Sensitive Device Casings

Apple was today granted a 2009 patent application to allow users to control a device by pressing on, or squeezing, parts of the casing. An illustration in the patent shows potential touch-sensitive areas across a whole range of different devices:

touch
The patent, discovered by AppleInsider, combines two different methods of detecting and measuring the amount of pressure applied: one physical, the other electrical. The capacitance test, which works in a similar way to touchscreens, would enable the device to tell human touch apart from accidental pressure applied while the device was carried in a pocket or bag.

Sensors disposed within the housing, in some embodiments directly beneath the surface, can detect when deflection occurs, which in turn denotes stress or pressure. In some embodiments, the sensors are connected to a printed circuit board that can in turn illuminate a light or other indicator when a minimum amount of readable stress is applied … A processor can take the measurements with their corresponding deflection rates, and translate them into device actions. For example, a threshold stress level is reached when a user presses down on a certain area of a device's housing. The processor determines that the capacitance change is outside the bounds of normal readings and can trigger a UI event or other device feature in response. The system can be customized to detect patterns and varied sensitivities to support a broad range of tasks.

Apple patents a great many technologies it never uses, either as potential solutions that are later rejected or to protect against competitor use, although the metal casing of the iPhone 5 could make the system practical on any future iPhone models with a similar casing.

Tag: Patent

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Top Rated Comments

Dan-- Avatar
148 months ago
So, if you squeeze the casing hard, it can tell the antenna to stop working properly ;)
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
needfx Avatar
148 months ago
I think that unless you build it and sell it, you shouldn't be holding those patent rights after a specific period of time.

maybe I am dumb
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Meandmunch Avatar
148 months ago
Mama's got a squeeze box...
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AQUADock Avatar
148 months ago
Doesn't apple use something like this in the apple(mighty) mouse?
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ironsienna Avatar
148 months ago
All these devices look so old! I can't believe in just 4 years how much mobile technology has been evolved!
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MJL Avatar
148 months ago
Pretty much a BS patent grant. And I'm sure will be invalidated when first tested in court.

My monitor already has touch sensitive buttons to control the settings. So what's so new about this that it requires a patent, just a different location?

The US patent office has become the laughing stock of the world and with these kind of stupid patents it won't be long until the rest of the world starts ignoring these US patents altogether.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)