There’s never a dull moment in the world of Apple patents. We’ve seen sneak peeks of many new pieces Apple kit in the past, and we’ve seen some things that have never made it into real world. Looking at the two latest patent applications from the boys in Cupertino, we’re really not sure which category they fit into.
The first of the two patents is for ‘Adjustable voice output based on device status‘ which refers to the way a device would respond to a status request.
The examples given show a list of commands – long/short button presses, single or double tap amongst others – and a list of possible responses. What it boils down to is the possibility of a device that could offer an appropriate voice response to a button-press based on the current status. SlashGear uses the example of an iPhone reporting low battery with a tired, slurred voice response. We hope Apple has better ideas for the technology than that, if they end up using it at all!
The second patent is for ‘Input devices and methods of operation‘ which, while not exactly setting the pulse racing may be the most interesting of the two.
The patent allows for tactile force feedback using pressure sensors and pneumatics to make areas of a surface either easier or harder to press. Imagine a flat surface that changes the amount of travel when pressed like a button, with the ability to make different areas easier or harder to press. Apple sees this as a way to potentially add smart buttons to slate-like devices such as smartphones and tablets.
As is always the case with patents of any kind though, there are no guarantees any of the technology outlined in either patent applications will find their way into real hardware. Many patents are for things thought up by engineers and patented so nobody else can use them, whether they might want to use them themselves or not. Apple is especially known for patenting anything and everything.
Could this be the case again here, or are we in for some talking buttons?