A recently discovered patent has shed some light on a new technology that could be utilized in a future iPhone or iPad, where the Home button would double as a joystick for gaming purposes. Sounds unreal? Head on after the jump to read what this is all about.

Apple patents keep popping up like wildflowers in bloom, with the latest one being fairly mechanical in nature. The latest patent by Apple has been published by the US Patent & Trademark Office, revealing the next-generation multi-functional Home button for iOS devices, including graphical illustrations of how the contraption will actually work.

iPhone 6 Home Button main

The images show a spring-loaded button which pops up to turn into a joystick. As the patent states: "In the first mode, an input portion of the multi-function input device is flush with the surface or recessed in the surface and is operable to receive z axis press input data. In the second mode, the input portion is positioned proud of the surface (i.e., project from the surface) and is operable to receive x axis input data and/or y axis input data." It goes on about more technical talk on axis and the like, but that’s not something we should be much concerned about.

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The button, when pressed with a certain amount of force will pop up, taking the contraption to – as put by the patent "second mode". For your more technical needs, the patent reads, "when force is applied to the multi-function Home Button that exceeds the threshold (such as a force in excess of 1000 g), the multi-function input device may project such that it is positioned proud of the surface 101 (as illustrated in FIG. 1C), thus switching the multi-function input device to the second mode – a gaming mode where the button acts as a joystick."

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Such an invention would immensely benefit Apple, where iOS is already a robust and leading gaming platform for mobile devices as proven by the A8X processor found in the latest iPad Air 2. Users are making use of third-party controllers for now on their iPhones and iPads, but the convenience of a built-in controller, which takes up no extra visible space, is something that is bound to be a definite hit with consumers.

(via: PatentlyApple)

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