updated 04:10 pm EDT, Thu June 26, 2008
Apple mice w/optical pads?
Future mice from Apple may incorporate optical scrollwheels, a new patent application suggests. Simply entitled Mouse having an optically-based scrolling feature, the application depicts a mouse similar to Apple's current Mighty Mouse, but with an oval trackpad in place of the current mechanical ball unit. According to Apple this is not only more aesthetically pleasing, but more intuitive, as it requires no force to scroll or click, and it becomes obvious that people can scroll both horizontally and vertically.
Apple's concept also involves an internal buzzer, which would provide audio feedback matched to the rate at which someone scrolls, compensating for the lack of normal mechanical sounds. To ensure people don't continually run their finger off the scrollwheel, subtle tactile barriers would be set up around the rim; alternately, Apple could print some form of visual boundary.