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Apple Patents: Rotary Mouse

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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12,476
MacObserver notes that Apple has filed a patent for a mouse with a rotary wheel. The rotational wheel would provide the user with the a scroll mechanism as well as a button.

The patent describes the disadvantages of the traditional scroll wheel mouse:

Unfortunately, the mouse described in FIG. 1 [Traditional Scrollwheel mouse] has several drawbacks. For example, the scroll wheel is limited in that it only provides a single finger position for accessing the scroll wheel (e.g., same position for left and right handed users). Furthermore, because only a small portion of the wheel can be used at any one time, the user cannot continuously turn the wheel. That is, the user must scroll, pick up a finger, scroll, pick up a finger, etc. This takes time and can be an annoyance to a user. In addition, because a portion of the wheel protrudes above the top surface of the mouse, inadvertent or accidental scrolling may occur when one of the two buttons is activated. That is, when the user goes to push the button or when the user switches from one button to the other, the user's finger may also engage the scroll wheel thus causing the wheel to turn when the button is depressed. Moreover, because the scroll wheel can only be manipulated in one direction, the use of the scroll wheel becomes counter intuitive when scrolling in a different direction in the GUI, as for example directions that are orthogonal thereto. That is, the scroll wheel only moves in one direction and thus it generally corresponds well to vertical scrolling and not horizontal scrolling (or vice versa). Also, the protruding scroll wheel is not aesthetically pleasing and thus it presents industrial design difficulties.

Users have speculated about such a wheel-device on a mouse, since the release of the iPod, with at least one mockup posted in May 2002.
 

melchior

macrumors 65816
Nov 17, 2002
1,208
79
so this is patent describing that... um, dial thing that that company sells (griffin powermate) =) combined with ha mouse.

i'd use it. the powermate is too expensive!

i hope it comes soon! next week? ;-)

oh, and my imagination leads to something very different from that mockup... i would LIKE to see a more powermate type mouse :cool:
 
Comment

weev

macrumors regular
Jan 21, 2003
180
0
Sydney, Australia
I'm thinking ipod scroll wheel here in some kinda mousey config.

May I add that a second button-type device on the mac mouse is long overdue (and a block to some switchers).
 
Comment

melchior

macrumors 65816
Nov 17, 2002
1,208
79
Originally posted by AndrewMT
Geez. They make it sound like the user needs a PHD to use a scroll wheel.

you do, it's a system requirment. why do you think we have a one button mouse? :D
 
Comment

NicoMan

macrumors 6502a
Oct 20, 2002
712
0
Malmö, Sweden
Originally posted by melchior
so this is patent describing that... um, dial thing that that company sells (griffin powermate) =) combined with ha mouse.

i'd use it. the powermate is too expensive!

i hope it comes soon! next week? ;-)

oh, and my imagination leads to something very different from that mockup... i would LIKE to see a more powermate type mouse :cool:
But a powermate-like wheel would protrude and would defeat one of the arguments mentioned in the patent (unaesthetic, not pleasing industrial design-wise...).

I also think iPod-like wheel integrated in the mouse...

NicoMan
 
Comment

richie

macrumors member
Jul 16, 2002
91
0
Melbourne, Australia
Originally posted by NicoMan

I also think iPod-like wheel integrated in the mouse...

Hmm, but this would seem confusing in a full-scale OS (as opposed to the iPod's) wouldn't it? I mean, scrolling down... rotate clockwise? It doesn't seem intuitive on a mouse, compared to on the iPod. Of course, if they do use it, it'll work, I know, but I just can't think of how, right now. Heh.


Edit: Just saw in the Patent:

12. A mouse for moving a cursor or pointer on a display screen, comprising: a mouse housing; and a disk coupled to the mouse housing and rotatable about an axis, the disk being configured to facilitate a control function on the display screen, the disk having a touchable surface for rotating the disk about the axis, the touchable surface being completely accessible to a finger of the user such that the disk can be continuously rotated by a simple swirling motion of the finger.


So... iPod-like thing seems pretty certain, at least for this claim. Not that patenting it would necessarily mean it's going to be used... :)
 
Comment

mangoduck

macrumors regular
Oct 26, 2002
115
0
lost at sea
apple has resisted making a multi-button mouse and/or scrolling mouse for so long, so it makes sense that if/when they finally do that it can't be as simple as that. they have to make it different just to make a point. i like it!

usability is another thing, but i'm not going to worry. that's apple's "thing" to such a degree, they can't help but get it right. i hope.
 
Comment

kas95125

macrumors newbie
Oct 2, 2002
11
0
Originally posted by mangoduck
that's apple's "thing" to such a degree, they can't help but get it right. i hope.

I humbly draw your attention to the hockey puck fiasco. :D
 
Comment

vniow

macrumors G4
Jul 18, 2002
10,266
0
I accidentally my whole location.
damn those patents can be confusing...

Some images for the lazy:

Mockup:
https://forums.macrumors.com/attachment.php?postid=56846

Powermate:


And some of the more interesting patent images...

(scaled down and mirrored here for your convienence because those things can be a pain in the ass to load, seems like the mockup isn't too far off though...)


Oh, and for the love of gawd, please include a second button already!

Also of note, to see the full size images, use Safari, wait for the page to load (there may or may not be a big blank image in the middle) ctrl-click on it (should be inside the second set of scroll bars) and save link to disk.
It often times out, so just keep on trying.
 

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Snowy_River

macrumors 68030
Jul 17, 2002
2,519
0
Corvallis, OR
I've used a trackball with an integrated rotary mechanism, and I've got to say I liked it much better than the scroll wheels I've worked with, for many of the reasons that they state. Continuous scrolling is no small thing once you've experienced it. And the issue of getting used to clockwise vs counter-clockwise for scrolling up and down is really not that big a deal. Believe me, this sounds like a really good thing!

:cool:
 
Comment

dstorey

macrumors 6502a
Dec 14, 2002
527
0
Originally posted by Snowy_River
Continuous scrolling is no small thing once you've experienced it. And the issue of getting used to clockwise vs counter-clockwise for scrolling up and down is really not that big a deal. Believe me, this sounds like a really good thing!

:cool:

ummm but then what about scrolling left to right and right to left. It mentions that too. if clockwise id down, anti-clockwise is up how do you scroll horizontally? the only way i can think of and its not all together ituitive as this patent says the design will be is that if your first movement is to move you finger up on the wheel then you scroll up, move left first and you scroll left etc.
 
Comment

mangoduck

macrumors regular
Oct 26, 2002
115
0
lost at sea
I humbly draw your attention to the hockey puck fiasco.

yes, that did come to mind when i wrote that. personally, i don't mind it at all, and am still using the puck that came with my last mac from 3 years ago. so used to it that any other "ergonomic" mouse just isn't. can't stand the top of it touching my palm; fingertips i say! zippy!

the pro mouse is better by most people's standards, but i've found that holding down a click while trying to pick up and reposition the mouse isn't so easy. the little cutout areas on the sides really should be squeezable because sometimes the plastic alone is just too slippery.

however, since there was such an outcry in response to previous design flaws - or maybe oddities is the right word - i should think apple will make the extra effort this time around. that was my thinking.
 
Comment

celaurie

macrumors 6502a
Mar 2, 2003
616
117
Scotland, UK.
Well, I personally feel guilty using the Micro$oft Intellipoint mouse I acquired recently. Such an Apple invention would make me very happy and feel more akin to the Jedi Force as opposed to the Dark Side... When can I have one? Oooh, can I be the tester?

And on the subject of mice, aren't wireless Apple mice looong overdue? :mad:

Chris, the impatient!
 
Comment

makkystyle

macrumors regular
Aug 12, 2002
209
0
They have listed some pretty cool features on this patent application. First, my biggest problem with the scroll whell is that many times there is not enough fine movement in it i.e. when you want to move page just a small bit. Apple mentions that an optical encoder may be used (no more click-clicking).

Any suitable number of counts may be used. In most cases, it would be desirable to increase the number of counts per report so as to provide higher resolution, i.e., more information can be used for things such as acceleration. Unfortunately, however, as the number of counts increases per report, it becomes harder for a human to determine. That is, there is generally a minimum angle that corresponds to human motor function (360/counts=degrees of rotation per count). Therefore, it would be desirable to balance the resolution and the human motor function, i.e., a high resolution that has some benefit to the user. It is generally believed that optical encoders give the user more control over the resolution, i.e., how many counts per rotation.

Also, they leave the door open for wireless....

In addition to the above, the mouse 100 generally includes a cable for connection to the computer. One end of the cable is permanently connected to the internal electronics such as the encoders, switches, processor, and the like, and the other end includes a connector for temporarily coupling the mouse to the computer. By way of example, the connector may be a PS/2 connector, a serial connector, a USB port and the like. In some cases, the mouse may include a radio frequency (RF link or optical infrared (IR) link to eliminate the need for a cable.

Finally....

For example, although in most cases the default of the scroll disc would correspond to vertical scrolling, in software, the cursor may be moved to the horizontal scroll bar on the screen to actuate horizontal scrolling.
 
Comment

ipiloot

macrumors member
Oct 22, 2001
93
0
Originally posted by dstorey
ummm but then what about scrolling left to right and right to left. It mentions that too. if clockwise id down, anti-clockwise is up how do you scroll horizontally? the only way i can think of and its not all together ituitive as this patent says the design will be is that if your first movement is to move you finger up on the wheel then you scroll up, move left first and you scroll left etc.

Look at the drawings. The disc seems to reside on a rocker. And possibly registers where you start scrolling. If you start on the vertical edge of the disc, it's vertical and if you start on horizontal, it's horizontal. The thing is clearly worth a patent and imho very smart invention.
 
Comment

buseman

macrumors regular
Dec 8, 2002
116
0
I would like the scrollwheel to be vertical for the thumb. Scrolling sideways for the pointing finger is very unergonomic.
 
Comment

stuepfnick

macrumors member
Oct 18, 2002
48
0
Mouse Wheel

I would love to see a mouse with a small touchpad on it, for scrolling. So you can scroll vertically and horizantally, and all smooth, and not in such big steps! Especially, because Mac OS X doesn't interpolate the scrolling and is just bucking.

I hope the apple thing gets similar fine, or even better!

greetings,
Baboon
 
Comment

a9mike

macrumors newbie
Apr 26, 2003
20
0
click - click

click - vertical
click - horizontal

The "rotary" section of the device will most certainly accept clicks as the iPod does. Click on it once (or by default without a click) and you control the vertical, click again & control the horizontal. Seems like it could be very intuative <envisioning> ... I think </envisioning>

I've personally just always liked the space bar as a modifier to "grab" the page, as in Photoshop & <option> in Quark.

2 cents
 
Comment

gandalf55

macrumors 6502
Apr 13, 2001
343
0
boston
akin to a mini trackball

like a mini-trackball...

move forward, scrolls up... if you hold your finger there... its scrolls continously. same in reverse for down. side to side, angles, etc.

perfect for pshop, web pages, 3d apps, etc. !! no more needed to hit the space bar to get a grabber hand and then scroll around with the mouse pointer!!!!!!

i'd love this.
 
Comment

dongmin

macrumors 68000
Jan 3, 2002
1,708
0
i'm glad that apple is trying to innovate, but com'on, the scroll wheel is a good thing. most windows scroll up and down so it makes perfect sense to have a scroll wheel that works on one, vertical axis. the beauty of it is actually its simplicity. apple's proposal sounds quite complex.
 
Comment

Goblin2099

macrumors member
Jul 18, 2002
65
0
New York City
In addition, because a portion of the wheel protrudes above the top surface of the mouse, inadvertent or accidental scrolling may occur when one of the two buttons is activated. That is, when the user goes to push the button or when the user switches from one button to the other, the user's finger may also engage the scroll wheel thus causing the wheel to turn when the button is depressed.

I don't see how any of the designs described would help this at all...a touch sensitive wheel right between the two buttons seems a lot more likely to be hit than a scroll wheel. Scroll wheels have a physical resistance to being scrolled, you have to exert some force to move them. A touch sensitive wheel, like the iPod wheel or the trackpad on a laptop, just requires the finger to barely brush it and the cursor will jump all over the place.
 
Comment

Postal

macrumors regular
Jun 22, 2002
124
0
Ottawa, ON, Canada
What I keep thinking regarding this mouse design is that Apple may time its release (assuming it gets released) to coincide with new PowerMacs. A new CPU and a new case design merit a new control scheme, or so goes my logic.

And like others, I really hope that the mouse has something that acts as a second mouse button (whether it's the scroll wheel itself or a separate button). When you have an OS with right-click menus, you should be able to right-click out of the box, no matter how easy a Ctrl-click may be!
 
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