Apple Files for a Patent on Improving Virtual Keyboard Functionality

Among the many patents that Apple files with and gets approval from the US Patent and Trademark Office, one interesting patent is about the Touch ID and how it can be improved. Apple has given the title “Self-Mixing Interference Based Sensors for Characterizing Touch Input,” to this patent filing. The technology that Apple wants to use is known as vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs). A simple way to understand this is the sensor will measure the amount of pressure being exerted on the key to knowing the intent of the user. This will ensure that the key registers the command only where the pressure is high and eliminates the pressing of keys by mistake. You may even be able to rest your finger on the screen without activating the key. There is a possibility this feature may get included in the iPads and iPhones in the future.

Multiple Sensing Methods in Touchscreen Technology

It has to be understood that when you use an iPhone or an iPad and employ the touchscreen technology to input text or to navigate using your fingers or a stylus pen, there are several ways the sensors get activated. These include resistive sensing, capacitive sensing, ultrasonic sensing, and optical sensing. Apple now says it plans to bring in further improvements in these sensing methods. This patent is part of that process.

The VCSEL technology works on the angle of the beam of light that is reflected every time the sensor gets activated. This angle of deflection is dependent on the amount of pressure being used by the finger or the stylus of the user on the surface of the screen. This process ultimately determines which key is pressed or what direction the finger swipes the screen. In the case of the keys, though the fingers may be hovering over a few keys only the one that receives the appropriate pressure gets activated.

Why Is This Important?

As indicated above, you may be used to the physical keyboard as in a PC and rest your palm on the keyboard. When you start using a touchscreen such luxuries may not be available. You will be concerned you may end up pressing a key if you rest your hand. This issue may be resolved if this new patent is put to use by Apple and introduced in its product.

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