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back to article Stroke my sexy see-through backside, says Jobs from BEYOND THE GRAVE

Apple has successfully patented a new invisible button designed to be placed on the back of iDevices or used in computers. Filed back in 2008, the design is a major broadside fired during Steve Jobs' war on visible buttons. The patent is for a "disappearing button or slider", which is little more than a series of holes with …

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Mushroom

Prior art

There was recently a Moto phone that had a trackpad on the back, so the "sticking it out of the way on the back of the phone" aspect of the patent is instantly obvious. I wonder if Moto patented that....?

I'm sure there's other prior art, along these lines, too...

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Re: Prior art

Not to mentio nall the headphones I have owned which have an invisible volume control which lights up when you swipe it.

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FAIL

Re: Prior art

And my missus' old HP laptop, whose trackpad isn't differentiated at all from the rest of the case in front of the keyboard (the wrist-rest bit) except for the clicky buttons at the bottom.

Bloody infuriating it is too when you try and use it, as you never know quite where the edge of it actually is so your fingers are forever going off the side of the sensing area and your cursor suddenly stops whilst your finger merrily continues onward across the case...

Lets say that lasted all of a couple of minutes before a rodent was hunted down and summarily stuck in one of the few USB ports the thing has.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Prior art

There was recently a Moto phone that had a trackpad on the back

Sony PSVita s well

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Prior art

Except this was filed in 2008...

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Fear of Buttons?

Was he molested during a performance of "Cinderella"?

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Re: Fear of Buttons?

"BEHIND YOU!!!"

Etc.

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FAIL

Prior art, my SGS had the same thing basically, the soft buttons on the front of the phone hid when not pressed..

Same with the SGS2m & SGS3 & SGS4...

And my SGS4 works with my gloves on, so HOW can Apple be granted this stupid patent?

USPTO, go to your room and have a good long think!

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Got an SGS1 here and the buttons don't quite disappear when not in use. Not that it matters really.

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Cube has it

for the power and that was released well over a decade ago. The only reason you new it was there was because of a marking on the case. Take that away, and you wouldn't know about it. It glowed when you touched it, or it was sleeping.

Not a fan of Apple, but not a fan of FUD either.

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Re: Cube has it

new = knew. FS.

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FAIL

Buttons that are only visable when you press them?

This laptop has those, a Vostro 1510 with a strip of capacitive touch sensitive media buttons above the keyboard that only light up when you press them - yes that's right, they only light up when your finger is covering the area that lights up!

And in low light conditions the brightness of the screen makes it difficult to see the faint outlines of the flat black non-tactile buttons, so for example instead of increasing the volume you could accidentally eject the DVD...

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Re: Buttons that are only visable when you press them?

I too have a Vostro that has that peculiar button layout. It would do my nut in, but since the near invisible volume buttons take dozens of taps to make any difference to the sound output, I tend to just use the mouse.

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Anonymous Coward

So, isn't this just a capacitative sensor with a light under it? Sort of like those large ones on the front of phones with thousands of light-emitting diodes?

As for making trackpads out of the same material as the rest of laptops... err... aren't they already? The one on my laptop is only identifiable as it is slightly recessed into the casing, otherwise it would be invisible.

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>So, isn't this just a capacitative sensor with a light under it? Sort of like those large ones on the front of phones with thousands of light-emitting diodes?

This is a method for sensing touch through metal through metal, not glass or plastic like previous implementations.

An input device includes a deflection based capacitive sensing input. Deflection of a metal fame of the input device causes a change in capacitance that is used to control a function of an electrical device. The input appears selectively visible because it is made of the same material as the housing it is contained in and because it is selectively backlit through tiny holes.

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Meh

Invisible buttons

Nothing new, just tell someone who's never seen a desktop iMac before to turn it on.

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WTF?

Huh?

"as previously the iPhone mobes tended to look like your average mobile phone. Now, however, they look like iPod Touches after Steve's koumpounophobia made him strip back the mechanism to a touch screen and (horror of horrors) one great big, horrible, clicky button."

Since when did iPhone mobes look like an average mobile phone? Did I miss a generation? Did the iPhone 0 have a number pad?

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Gloves?

"would work even if the user was wearing gloves, giving it a large advantage over existing capacitive screen tech."

Um... Synaptics already make touch controllers that allow use with gloves. And it's not even like these are only on a roadmap or in a lab: There's one in every Nokia Lumia 720,82x and 92x and every Samsung Galaxy S4 (may not be Synaptics, but the feature is the same).

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Re: Gloves?

isn't this down to the sensitivity of the capacitive sensors? if so, what have Apple invented here? Lights?

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Re: Gloves?

>isn't this down to the sensitivity of the capacitive sensors? if so, what have Apple invented here? Lights?

Nah, this concept works by detecting the deflection in the device casing, which is why it works with gloves. Click the link in the article for more detail.

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Stop

A method

Patents are about *A* method to do something, not all methods. Prior art only comes into play if it used the same or substantially similar methods. Buttons that are only visible when you use them on other devices use this method do they? As far as I know drilling VERY small holes in metal by laser for light to show through is an Apple invention already. This is building on that by detecting pressure by changing of capacitance due to flexing the metal.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A method

"As far as I know drilling VERY small holes in metal by laser for light to show through is an Apple invention already."

An invention? Really? Are you sure? What exactly is the invention? Making a small hole?

Sounds more like a lab technicians cock waving competition in reverse... my hole is smaller than yours.

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Coat

Re: A method

There are many situations where a small hole, rather than a large one, is preferable.

For more info, check out "wizard's sleeve" in the Profanosarus.

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Thumb Up

Re: A method

+1 for the Borat ref

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Alert

Re: A method

Legend has it that a German engineering firm once sent a tiny drill bit to a British engineering firm, with a note saying "This is the finest drill bit in the world" -- and had it returned to them with a hole drilled all the way along its axis, and a note saying "No it isn't".

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Re: A method

That's the thing, the holes - a set of them - are so small that they are not visible to the naked eye, yet permit enough light through the surface.

The front of the MacBook Pros have this, the standby light is one such light; there are no visible breaks in the metal surface, but yet the white light glows on and off while the lid is down. I don't know if Apple did it first or not but it is damnably clever to use it in that way (IMHO)

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Re: A method

@A J Stiles: I think I heard that legend with the nationalities reversed. (It's a good story either way, of course.)

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Happy

It's the wild colour scheme that freaks me out. Every time you try and operate these weird black controls that are labeled in black on a black background, a little black light lights up in black to let you know you’ve done it."

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That was my first thought, too!

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Gimp

"Groping around on the back of an iMac"?

Just the once. After that it stays on until you sell it for 75% of cost 6 years later.

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FAIL

Another stupid idea ...

Apart from offering yet another opportunity for water to enter a phone.

Additionally, the holes would offer wonderful receptors for granular dirt to enter and block them, rendering yhee 'feature' less sensitive or inoperable.

Additionally, it would offer yet another 'no hold' area for users to avoid.

I don't think even Apple Lemmings would consider this worth paying out their annual tithes to be able to be a 'rear admiral'.

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Re: Another stupid idea ...

>Additionally, the holes would offer wonderful receptors for granular dirt to enter and block them, rendering yhee 'feature' less sensitive or inoperable.

You'd have thought so, but it doesn't seem to happen on the Apple Wireless keyboard power indicator, which uses tiny holes in aluminium to let light through.

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Re: Another stupid idea ...

"I don't think even Apple Lemmings would consider this worth paying out their annual tithes to be able to be a 'rear admiral'."

Don't bet on it.

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Re: Another stupid idea ...

"You'd have thought so, but it doesn't seem to happen on the Apple Wireless keyboard power indicator, which uses tiny holes in aluminium to let light through."

Do you smear your oily, grubby thumbs all over the Apple Wireless keyboard power indicator on a regular basis?

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WTF?

Water/dirt through the holes

Liquid water can't enter through the holes, the surface tension is far too high, but of course moisture in the air would be able to. Not sure about dirt. Nothing we human scale people think of as dirt would fit, but dirt particles too small to see would. I just don't get why you seem to think this is an issue.

Don't you think the volume buttons on a current iPhone offer a MUCH easier path for moisture and dirt to get inside? Nevermind how easy it is for dirt to get inside any phone where the back comes off to replace the battery, it isn't as though that hermetically seals when you snap the back on. Or all the other openings phones have for charging, headphones, SIM cards, SD cards and so on. Yeah, let's all worry about the micron sized holes!

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Anonymous Coward

A button lights up when your finger presses it!

Not that you know. Unless of course Apple also provide a way for their "kin" (erk) to make their finger transparent.

(they already make them seem invisible with all the wanking motion going on)

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Anonymous Coward

Why do I get the impression

that this whole article was an excuse to write

Many Apple fanbois will remember frantically groping around the rear of an iMac, trying to finger exactly the right spot that would turn their computer on.

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"seamless design"

Ah, yes, seamless design. Because removing tactile and visual information previously available to the user is the best way to improve usability.

Idiots. Even a passing familiarity with, say, Don Norman's work would have shown them why this is a terrible idea - and he used to work for them.

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