Apple Inc. (Cupertino, CA)

A computer input device could include a housing, a set of key switch mechanisms positioned in the housing, and an movable key structure that is operable between a first configuration inside the housing and a different configuration detached from the housing. A position sensor can be included in the key that is removable. In the first configuration, it’s possible to use the key structure removable to function as a keyboard-based input. The second configuration permits the key structure that is removable to serve as a computer pointer device using the position sensor. Keys that are removable allow the user to have a comfortable, precise and portable pointer input to a computer input system.

The computer mouse has been an integral component of desktop computing, since the graphical user interface was popularized during the 1980s, with the release of the Apple Macintosh. The mouse for computers has witnessed numerous innovations throughout the years. This includes a left and right-click button, scroll wheel optical sensor, trackball sensor, laser sensor, wireless communication with the host computer, and the scroll wheel. It is made to be comfortable in the palm and features an ergonomic design that is comfortable. This helps keep its size steady. The handheld mouse is ideally suited to a variety of precise tasks, like graphic design, computer-aided modeling and design, as well as editing huge, complicated documents.

In some cases, portable computing devices like laptop and tablet computers benefit by using a peripheral mouse input device. However the user is forced to carry a separate mouse along with the computer, and the separate device could be redundant if the computer already comes with built-in pointing devices. There is always an opportunity for improvement and improvement in computer input devices. systems.

A feature of the disclosed invention relates to an input device for computers comprising a housing with a key switch mechanisms that are placed in the housing and a key that is removable structure that can be used to switch between a first configuration that is positioned inside the housing and an alternative configuration separate from the housing. A position sensor can be integrated into the removable key. The first configuration permits the key structure that is removable to be used as a typing input using keys. The second option the key that can be moved can be used as a pointer using the position sensor.

The removable key structure may contain an input transducer that senses the user’s movement or touch across the top. The removable key structure can be mounted in a socket or recessin the housing in the first configuration. The key structure that is removable may comprise the internal mechanism for key switching, as well as an additional housing. The internal key switch mechanism is relocated relative to the second housing and the second housing can be removed from the housing. A body segment that has an expandable side feature could be a part of the structure for the key that is removable. The removable key structure can be removed from the mechanism for key switches of the key switch set. You can take the key structure removable from any keycap or subkey attached to the housing.

In some embodiments the removable key structure can further comprise an internal energy storage device, in which the internal energy storage device is configured to receive energy in the first configuration. A bottom surface as well as a spacer are able to be added to the removable key structure to separate the support surface from the lower of the second configuration.

Another aspect of the disclosure is a computer input device which includes a base structure and an input structure that is able to output electronic signals for position and a support structure to connect the input structure to the base structure. The input device is connected to the support structure and the force applied to the top of the structure may deflect it in relation to the base. In a different configuration, the input device can separated from the support structure and the input device could be operable to output the electronic position signal.

In certain embodiments, the input system could also comprise an electronic switch, in which the force that is applied to the top layer of the input device actuates the switch when deflected by the device’s input surface relative to the structure base. Magnetic structures can be used to connect the support structure and the input device. The support structure may consist of a key stabilizer which is which is detachable and reversibly attachable to the device that is input. A keycap that can be connected to and removed from the input device or reversibly connected to it is another possibility.

In some embodiments, application of an off-center force to the top surface of the input device can separate the device’s input from its support structure. If the input device is deflected from the base structure less than the threshold distance, the input device can be locked to the support structure when the force is eliminated, and when the input device moves in relation to the base structure at or greater than the threshold distance the input device is removed from the support structure after the force is removed.

Yet another aspect of the disclosure pertains to a computer-based input system comprising a keyboard apparatus comprising a housing, a set of key switch mechanisms placed in the housing, a controller that is in electronic communication with the set of key switch mechanisms and an input device that can be removably connected to the housing within the set of key switch mechanisms. The input device could comprise a body and a sensor placed inside the body, wherein in a first configuration of the input device the input device is connected to the keyboard apparatus and its output is recognized by the controller as the first input type. However, in another configuration of the input device, the input device is separated from the keyboardapparatus and its output is recognized by the controller as a second type of input.

In some embodiments the input type can be a position or movement of an appendage of a user relative to the sensor. The second input type can be a position or movement within the body of the device. The first input type may be a keyboard-based input that is key-based, while the second input type can be an input from a mouse.

Click here to view the patent on USPTO website.


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