“The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 39 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today,” Jack Purcher reports for Patently Apple. Purcher reports, “Apple’s patent filing describes a futuristic non-physical MacBook keyboard that only appears when the the user waves their hand over the keyboard area.
Depending upon the particular electronic device, the manner in which the housing input mechanism is incorporated into the housing may vary. Alternatively, a user may be able to interact with the housing input mechanism without actually making physical contact with the electronic device. For example, in the context of FIG. 9, if the housing input mechanism 100 is used in place of the traditional keyboard of the notebook computer, then pressure waves that may arise from a user waving his hand over the keyboard may provide the user interaction, e.g., waking up the notebook computer 22 from a sleep state.
But this is where it really gets wild. Apple’s patent filing describes a futuristic non-physical MacBook keyboard that only appears when the the user waves their hand over the keyboard area: This ability may allow the housing input mechanism 600 to be implemented as a hidden keyboard, where the illumination devices are illuminated when the user waves his hand over the housing to cause the keys to appear.’”
Embodiments of electronic devices are disclosed that allow a user to interact with an electronic device through their housings. More specifically, in some embodiments, the electronic devices may include one or more input-output (I/O) devices that are integrated into the surface of the housing rather than within the housing. That is, the housing may be part of the I/O system as well as the structural enclosure for the electronic device.
With regard to inputting data via the housing, the housing may include one or more sensors that are capable of detecting a variety of user actions as input to the electronic device. In other words, the housing itself may be used as an input device such that user actions like approaching, touching, tapping, holding, and/or squeezing the electronic device, may be used as input data by the electronic device. In some embodiments, the sensors in the housing also may be combined with one or more additional sensing devices to enhance the housing’s ability to sense user actions. For example, the sensors in the housing may be used in conjunction with an accelerometer.
While conventional housings for electronic devices may be manufactured using different types of plastics, an increasing number of housings are being implemented where the housing is manufactured, in whole or in part, using metal.
Conventional approaches have had difficulty sensing user interaction through metal, especially when the sensors are implemented using capacitive sensing technologies. In some embodiments, the difficulties associated with capacitive sensing may be overcome by forming the capacitive sensor using the housing as a first terminal of the capacitor, using another terminal located within the housing as a second terminal of the capacitor, and separating the first and second terminals to create a cavity or gap to be filled with dielectrics.