Apple Developing Backlit Trackpad?

MacRumors

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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A recent patent filed by Apple suggests the company is continuously looking for ways to improve user input devices. In this case, Apple describes an "improved feedback mechanism for touch pads", including "devices capable of illuminating the touch sensitive surface of the touch pad" and "methods for providing visual feedback at the touch pad."Although touch pads work well, improvements to their form feel and functionality are desired. By way of example, it may be desirable to provide visual stimuli at the touch pad so that a user can better operate the touch pad. For example, the visual stimuli may be used (among others) to alert a user when the touch pad is registering a touch, alert a user where the touch is occurring on the touch pad, provide feedback related to the touch event, indicate the state of the touch pad, and/or the like.
Apple currently includes back-lit keyboards in its MacBook Pro notebook computers. The current application builds on numerous previous patents filed between 2002 and 2005.




The invention in a trackpad configuration.




The invention embodied as an iPod click-wheel.

Raw Data: Patent Application 20070152977

Article Link: Apple Developing Backlit Trackpad?
 

NewSc2

macrumors 65816
Jun 4, 2005
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New York, NY
Sounds kind of gimmicky, but I'd like to see what comes up. Seems like multi-touch will do away with the need for a trackpad, though.

I rarely use the back-lit keyboard, but I can justify it more than having a back-lit trackpad. The monitor gives good enough feedback on where I'm at.
 

FJ218700

macrumors 68000
Mar 8, 2007
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Blue Dot, Red State
although it's hard for me to imagine the need for this feature under the current OS, I'm sure that if this rumor indeed becomes reality, we'll all be wondering someday how we ever got along without such feedback.
 

thesdx

macrumors 6502a
Jul 12, 2007
673
2
I'm thinking that the new trackpads will feature multi-touch, just like the rumored multi-touch Mighty Mouse. In the multi-touch mouse rumor, the patent suggests that the mouse could glow when the user has new mail. This new trackpad could be the notebook equivalent of the multi-touch Mighty Mouse.
 

longofest

Editor emeritus
Jul 10, 2003
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Sounds kind of gimmicky, but I'd like to see what comes up. Seems like multi-touch will do away with the need for a trackpad, though.

I rarely use the back-lit keyboard, but I can justify it more than having a back-lit trackpad. The monitor gives good enough feedback on where I'm at.
I don't know if we should expect Apple to jump straight to Multi-touch monitor-enabled macs. My idea is that they will most likely incorporate the technology other ways first... like a more multi-touch enabled trackpad (other than two-finger scrolling, of course), or the multi-touch mouse we've been hearing about. A full 15" or larger screen that is multi-touch enabled would be prohibitively expensive for the consumer, I think.
 

MLeepson

macrumors 6502
Apr 4, 2007
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USA
It's kind of like my Samsung Sync. On the front when you tap one of the 3 icons, it lights up. It's just a way to try to jazz it up, because it has no real purpose.
 

stainlessliquid

macrumors 68000
Sep 22, 2006
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What is the point of visual stimuli to tell us we are touching something? We already know when we are touching something, its called feeling.
 

bigandy

macrumors G3
Apr 30, 2004
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Murka
maybe a light outline on it would be good. i find my backlit MBP keyboard fantastically useful, and some small, not too bright outline of the trackpad would be fine.
 

bigandy

macrumors G3
Apr 30, 2004
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Murka
What is the point of visual stimuli to tell us we are touching something? We already know when we are touching something, its called feeling.
of course, unless your disability means you have no feeling in your fingers. in that sense, it could be very useful.
 

arn

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Apr 9, 2001
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stainlessliquid said:
What is the point of visual stimuli to tell us we are touching something? We already know when we are touching something, its called feeling.
I disagree. The iPhone is full of visual feedback that would otherwise not be obvious what was going on if you didnt have it.

Arn
 

MrCrowbar

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Jan 12, 2006
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I disagree. The iPhone is full of visual feedback that would otherwise not be obvious what was going on if you didnt have it.

Arn
So true. It does have the clicking noise, but that gets so annoying :)
Feedback is good.
 

Clive At Five

macrumors 65816
May 26, 2004
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St. Paul, MN
What sort of visual feedback could be given if your finger is covering up the point of contact?!

And secondly, who looks at their trackpad as they're computing? Not me.

The only useful part of this patent, I think, would be gently lighting the perimeter of the pad, as the MBP does the letters of the keyboard. It would make finding the track pad easier. Otherwise, I see it as mostly useless.

Prove me wrong, Apple. I'm curious.

-Clive
 

k2k koos

macrumors 6502a
This is Apple. They do Gimmicks, but most of their gimmicks serve a purpose, they are the masters of the GUI, and other controller surfaces, I am looking forward on how Apple is going to make the track pad functional and fun at the same time :) :apple:
 

dhc

macrumors regular
Jan 10, 2006
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UK
Maybe the trackpad will actually be a small screen, with multitouch functionality? Dynamic icons that appear depending on you current usage?
 

guzhogi

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Aug 31, 2003
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Wherever my feet take me…
Multitouch would be cool. I also feel that a backlit trackpad would be one of those features where before you use it, you think it's a stupid idea, but after a while, you wonder how you ever survived w/o it.
 

dscottbuch

macrumors member
Mar 13, 2002
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6
Maybe the trackpad will actually be a small screen, with multitouch functionality? Dynamic icons that appear depending on you current usage?
This is what I think would be GREAT. For example, need a number pad for a couple of entries. Tap the # sign in the upper left, for example and get a big number pad a-la iphone. Need a special set of icons for a specific Keynote/Photoshop/Word operation - after pressing the command-<key> sequence the choice appear on the trackpad instead of searching for them with the mouse.

These might not be the best examples but with careful UI design this could be huge.
 

wHo_tHe

macrumors regular
Maybe the trackpad will actually be a small screen, with multitouch functionality? Dynamic icons that appear depending on you current usage?
Bingo.

Future Apple laptops will clamshell two screens. They will eventually try to get us off of keyboards altogether, as keyboards represent one of the last true mechanical components of a computer and a common point of failure.