Apple envisions trackpad with sensors instead of click buttons

A freshly-published patent application describes a trackpad that jettisons the usual click buttons in favor of sensors and tactile feedback.

Apple/USPTO

Apple wants to tweak the traditional trackpad, at least as described in a patent filing.

Published on Tuesday by the US Patent and Trademark office, a patent application named "Touch pad with force sensors and actuator feedback" floats the idea of a trackpad that doesn't need a click button to respond to your touch and offer you feedback. Instead, the pad would be built with sensors to detect how hard you tap.

Many laptops still include click buttons above or below the touchpad. Others, such as Apple's own MacBook, integrate the click feature into the trackpad itself. Either way, you still have to press down for the device to register your touch.

In Apple's invention, sensors would be outfitted at all four corners of the trackpad. Those sensors would determine the pressure of your touch and respond accordingly. Further, the sensors could provide tactile feedback so you can feel the response of the trackpad without it having to physically move down. Audible vibrations could mimic the sound of a click as you tap down on the touch pad.

You could also control the sensitivity of the sensors and the tactile feedback based on whether you have a lighter or heavier touch. Finally, Apple's invention would save space under and around the trackpad by eliminating the need for dedicated click controls.

(Via AppleInsider)

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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