Always looking to innovate in any way it can, a recent patent filing from Apple reveals that the company is exploring the possibility of expanding the functionality of its MagicMouse.
In a patent application initially discovered by AppleInsider, and titled Computer Input Device Including a Display Device, the patent includes an illustration of a mouse with an overtop display capable of displaying pertinent information and registering user input, such as when a user might input a numeric code into a web form or entries into a spreadsheet.
Apple’s filing notes that the usability of a computer might become easier through input devices that are “more communicative” to the user. It also notes that the addition of a screen could make a device more “aesthetically pleasing,” by allowing users to change the look of it by customizing what is displayed on the screen.
The proposed invention would provide “observable data” to a user through the input device itself. The image could even be displayed on the back of a curved surface, like a mouse, by projecting the image onto an outer surface of “collimated glass.”
As you might expect, the display would be dynamic and would adjust to fit whatever use case scenario a user found him or herself in. As another example, the patent describes “displaying a number of icons for quickly selectable options when a user is running Apple’s Pages word processing application. Switching over to the spreadsheet software Numbers would reconfigure the buttons on the screen to allow for commands in that respective application.”
The patent is credited to Gordie Freedman, Jacob Farkas, and Toby Charles Wood Patterson and was originally proposed in July of 2009. As a point of interest, Freedman has been with Apple since 2003 and had previously worked as a software developer at NeXT
The entire Patent application can be viewed as a PDF over here.