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Patent For Configurable Input System Emerges

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Hrmph reports on a recently released patent filed by Apple for a configurable input system that is shown to be applicable for an iPod and a laptop computer.

Apple seems to propose that you take a ‘blank’ iPod and add a wheel for a standard iPod, add a keypad to make it a phone - add a joystick to make it a game machine. The overlays are identified by the computer/device and it reacts accordingly. Imagine adding a nice volume control to your iPod. The ‘blank’ iPod can be made into a PDA, cell phone, game machine, handtop or remote control.

Add a joystick to your MacBook? How about a mixing desk?
Presumably, this would allow third-party vendors to design their on interfaces for the iPod/MacBook- this would make an extremely versatile machine. Examples mention by Apple include surfaces to make your MacBook a music/video editing machine or even overlays allowing you to add two buttons to your MacBooks touchpad.

The concept is based around adding physical/tactile controls over a touch-sensitive pad. By having such a modular system, an iPod or laptop could become even more multi-functional. The following image depicts several different modules that could be used on a laptop.


As a grain of salt, readers are reminded that Apple routinely patents technology that never makes it into shipping products.
 

nodrog6

macrumors newbie
Sep 6, 2006
9
0
This is the most innovative idea I have seen in a long time. Way to go Apple!
 
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JMax1

macrumors 6502
Oct 17, 2006
424
1
Harlem, NY
After watching the TV interview... let the host ask again "Yeah, but HOW is Apple innovative?"

Can I put a beer dispenser into my MacBook?
 
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racebit

macrumors newbie
Sep 13, 2006
18
0
The Ham, Bama
sweet

That is such a neat idea. However, I somehow get the feeling that makes me doubt its inclusion in any of apple's new products in 2007.:(
 
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applecrag

macrumors regular
Jun 7, 2004
100
0
this sounds pretty cool. is it possible to do this and keep a sturdy product? correct me if im wrong but i thought they moved away from the moving wheel (1G ipod) to the touch wheel because it was less moving parts. very cool and innovative. i hope this is something that gets used and knowing apple they will use it well!
 
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Xander562

macrumors 68000
Apr 2, 2006
1,625
0
However, I somehow get the feeling that makes me doubt its inclusion in any of apple's new products in 2007.:(

As a grain of salt, readers are reminded that Apple routinely patents technology that never makes it into shipping products.

Well it does mention that apple doesn't use all the things it patents, so it's possible we'll NEVER see this used.
 
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BlueRevolution

macrumors 603
Jul 26, 2004
6,054
2
Montreal, QC
Not gonna happen. For starters, how do you type in names for your audio tracks when you've got your keyboard swapped for a mixer? :)

Still, neat idea.
 
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CTYankee

macrumors 6502
Jul 18, 2002
413
7
This is the most innovative idea I have seen in a long time. Way to go Apple!

I had a video game sysem back in the 80s that did this...each game cartridge had its own interface and programming. It basicually used a the same touch pad to interpret the location of the finger pressing and the programing to tell it what to do with the input.

While this does present some interesting concepts...it looks like more vaporware from Apple. Companies routinely patent ideas for later use or more commonly to just 'hedge' their products or keep others from developing them. Other countries have a better idea. If you don't push to take it to market, you lose your patent. Whats the sense in patents that exist only to stiffle an industry? And I have 3 patents, 2 of which will never see the light of day. Just like many alternative fuel technologies. The small companies that hold patents get bought up by the gas guzzling car makers and the development of these technologies all but stops.
 
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Leej

macrumors member
Sep 13, 2006
30
0
Very very slick, but (like mentioned) this looks like the kind of thing that never materializes. Say... I wonder if they could make a good espresso maker input/output system...
 
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bryanc

macrumors 6502
Feb 12, 2003
335
0
Fredericton, NB Canada
That is a cool idea

This could be a real winner.

I've been thinking for several years that what needs to evolve in our technology is the physical user interface... computers are fast enough (for the time being), and there's only so much you can do with software.

This opens up limitless possibilities for hardware evolution.

What will make this super for Apple is that, because they make the hardware and the software, it will work properly... unlike all the add-ons for computers as we currently know them.

This is brilliant.

cheers
 
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Reverend Wally

macrumors member
Aug 14, 2006
79
0
Lakeland, FL
Not gonna happen. For starters, how do you type in names for your audio tracks when you've got your keyboard swapped for a mixer? :)

Still, neat idea.

Have a fixed row of preset and a few reprogrammable keys to call up the interactive functionality of each seperate module so by switching the module to do each task you could record your info with one module switch the module while the file is open push the correct preset key and name the file then go on to the next either related or new task at hand.
 
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MacQuest

macrumors 6502a
Jan 18, 2003
902
0
You See Dead People...
Not gonna happen. For starters, how do you type in names for your audio tracks when you've got your keyboard swapped for a mixer? :)

Still, neat idea.

External keyboard.

The overlay input device would obviously need to replace the laptop's keyboard, but plugging in an external keyboard would be easy enough.

I don't agree with "Spanky Deluxe" who said that these overlays would cost a fortune.

They would certainly cost less than buying a completely physically separate component.

I keep imagining something like those "Z-Board" gaming keyboards that are custom made for each game, but in this case it's just the overlay and the functionality that changes.

Interesting...
 
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caliguy

macrumors 6502
Jun 12, 2005
281
631
That's genius. Those kind of things make me think why I haven't thought of that before. They really do Think Different.
 
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