With Force Touch so far implemented on MacBooks, the Magic Trackpad 2 and the iPhone 6s (with 3D Touch branding), it’s no surprise that Apple has plans for the Magic Mouse to get in on the act.

The last update to the Magic Mouse, back in October, swapped the removeable batteries for a curiously placed Lightning-charged built-in one, and added a new pairing method – but as yet there’s no way to use Force Touch features. That looks set to change as Apple highlights the missing functionality in a new patent granted today …

A mouse is typically an input device that can generally be manipulated by a user to provide directional input to an associated electronic device. In some cases, such a mouse may include one or more selection elements to which a user can apply force in order to indicate a selection. However, such selection elements are generally binary-they are activated, or they are not. That is, the selection elements typically only detect whether or not a force exceeding a particular threshold has been applied and cannot determine the actual amount of force that has been applied within a range of force amounts.

The patent, spotted by Patently Apple, describes how Apple plans to correct that.

A force sensing input device (such as a force sensing mouse) includes at least one force sensor and at least one top portion movably connected to at least one bottom portion. When a force is applied to the top portion, the top portion exerts pressure on the force sensor. The force sensor obtains force data based upon the pressure. The amount of force applied to the top portion, within a range of force amounts, is determined from at least the force data. In this way, a broader range of inputs may be receivable from the force sensing input device as compared to input devices that merely detect whether or not a button or similar element has been pushed.

As with existing implementations in both trackpads and the iPhone 6s, a haptic motor provides feedback on the force applied.

We always note that an Apple patent is no guarantee that an invention will ever make it into a real live product, but we’d put good money on this one being introduced in the next update or three.


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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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