As the phrase goes, “build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.” Apple is turning that on its head by seeking to build a better mouse.
Its proposal is for a round mouse that can sense how the user is holding it, so it always performs as the user expects. And rather than moving the mouse to control the cursor, the user tilts it.
Is this the “Magic Mouse Pro”?
Apple received patent #10,496,187 for “Domed orientationless input assembly for controlling an electronic device” — not exactly a catchy name. If this design gets turning into a shipping product, it’s likely to be called something like the “Magic Mouse Pro,” inline with Apple’s move to have a “Pro” version of all its products.
The text in patents is always obtuse, and this one is especially so. For example, it says:
“An input assembly is provided for controlling an electronic device, where the input assembly may include a housing structure providing an orientationless surface with respect to at least one axis of an input coordinate system of the input assembly, a sensor subassembly at least partially protected by the housing structure, and processor operative to detect, with the sensor subassembly, a user coordinate system of a user with respect to the orientationless surface, detect, with the sensor subassembly, a physical use of the housing structure, and determine a control action for the electronic device based on the user coordinate system and the physical use. “
With the help of the images that accompany this text we were able to translate this into English. Apple seems to have come up a mouselike device that can sense where its user is and orient itself to the user. So, despite this device being round, however you grab it, it’s always lined up the way you want it to be.
And moving the on-screen cursor isn’t done by moving the whole input device. Instead, it works like a dome-shaped directional pad — tilt the top of the device in the direction the cursor is supposed to go.
Is this even a mouse?
Everyone is familiar with the mouse, so any possible replacements have to be significantly better to draw any interest. Trackpads have gained some traction with users — MacBooks have them because it’s not always possible for a mobile computer to have space for a mousepad.
Apple’s “domed orientationless and/or ambidextrous input assembly” takes up less room than a mouse, while still providing a somewhat mouse-like experience. Whether people will embrace tilting instead of sliding is anyone’s guess.
There’s possibly research going on now to answer that question. Apple has a patent for this design, but won‘t make it into a Magic Mouse Pro unless it believes there’s a market for it. Still, the current Magic Mouse 2 has been around since 2015. Maybe it’s time for a radical update.
Via: Patently Apple