Apple wins patent that reveals possible future input surfaces on the side of the device for easy scrolling user interface and more

Today, the United States Patent and Trademark Office formally granted Apple a patent that primarily relates to a future user being able to scroll through a webpage or document on the side of a future iPhone or iPad instead of scroll the side of the screen where the fingerprints are collected. .

Side entry surface of the device with distributed force and touch sensors

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has officially issued an issued patent covering force and touch sensors that use self-mixing interferometry of laser diodes to detect force or touch on input surfaces like the side of an iPhone or to force touch on a screen with an Apple Pencil. Force or touch inputs can be detected at multiple points on the surface or display using a waveguide to direct the light emitted by the laser diodes.

The patent issued by Apple covers devices, methods and systems – and electronic devices equipped with them – that can detect pressure, touch or other input to input surfaces, such as the side of a device like an iPhone and a display surface that Apple Pencil can work with. The invention could also be used on other devices such as MacBooks or iMacs.

The devices, methods, and systems may include an optical waveguide, positioned on or adjacent to the input surface, into which a laser diode inserts light. Light can be inserted and experience total internal reflections as it traverses the length of the optical waveguide until, in some embodiments, it is reflected by a full or partial reflector at one end of the optical waveguide. optical waves, the end being at a known distance from the light insertion site (for example, from the diode). In the absence of user contact on the input surface, the inserted light which is reflected by the reflector may be returned to the laser cavity of the laser diode to cause existing light self-mixing interference inside the laser cavity and reflected light. light.

The user’s finger shown in Fig. 1A below can also provide a scroll input through the detection slots 106a-106n which detect the position and velocity of the user’s finger (or other input device) along sensing locations 106a-106n using an array of light-based sensors; FIG. 1B illustrates a display input surface on an electronic device that can accommodate an Apple Pencil input.

This is the second patent issued by Apple for this invention in which they have added 20 new patent claims to better protect the invention from competitors, patent trolls and imitators. In the first patent granted by Apple, the claims related entirely to “the electronic device”. In the patent granted today, Apple’s patent claims cover: 1) “A self-mixing detection system” (8 claims); (2) more on “An electronic device” (8 claims); and (3) “The method” (4 claims). Below is the first brand new patent claim for Apple’s invention:

First new patent claim: “A self-mixing interference detection system, comprising: a deformable input surface; an optical waveguide positioned below the deformable entry surface and having: a set of distinct sensing locations on the deformable entry surface; and a reflector defining one end of the optical waveguide; a light source configured to emit light into the optical waveguide, the reflector defining a first feedback cavity having a first length and reflecting emitted light to and into the light source in the absence of any input to any location detection of the set of separate sensor locations; and processing electronics operatively coupled to the light source, wherein: an input applied to a sensing location of the set of distinct sensing locations deforms the deformable input surface and brings in at least a portion of the emitted light reflecting towards and into the light source without reflecting from the reflector, the deformation of the deformable input surface defining a second feedback cavity having a second length shorter than the first length; light reflected into the light source from within the first feedback cavity undergoes a first process of self-mixing with light generated by the light source; light reflected into the light source from within the second feedback cavity undergoes a second process of self-mixing with light generated by the light source; and the processing electronics analyzes the first self-mixing process and the second self-mixing process by detecting a change in at least one of a junction voltage or a current of the detection system d self-mixing interference and, in response to sensing the at least one of the junction voltage or current, identifies the presence of the input applied to the sensing location. »

For more details and the remaining 19 patent claims, see Apple issued patent 11,392,248 titled “Waveguide-Based Multipoint/Distributed Interferometric Force and Tactile Sensors”.

10.52FX - Patent Bar Granted

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