On October 26, the US Patent & Trademark Office published Apple’s patent application titled ‘Electronic Device Having Display and Surrounding Touch Sensitive Bezel for User Interface and Control,’ which was originally filed on June 23, 2006. Apple’s patent goes into great detail describing the chameleonic nature of a next generation touch screen iPod which will clearly be able to transform itself from being a music player to PDA to photo album and yes a cellular phone!
Full Screen Multifunctional iPod
The electronic devices may be multi-functional hand-held devices. The electronic devices have a user interface that requires no (or at most only a few) physical buttons, keys, or switches so that the display size of the electronic devices can be substantially increased. Preferably, the electronic devices eliminate such physical buttons, keys, or switches from a front surface of the electronic device so that additional surface area becomes available for a larger display on the electronic device. Ultimately, this strategy allows the electronic device to house a substantially full screen display. As used herein, a full screen display is a display that consumes, or at least dominates, a surface (e.g., a front surface) of the electronic device.
FIG. 3A is a perspective view of a multi-functional hand-held device 50 having a housing 52 and a substantially full screen display 60. To accommodate the full screen display 60, the multi-functional hand-held device 50 is preferably configured with a limited number of physical buttons. Because a limited number of physical buttons are provided, the display 60 of the hand-held device 50 preferably uses a touch screen as the primary input mechanism for the electronic device 50. The touch screen of the display 60 is a transparent touch sensing mechanism that is positioned over or incorporated into the display 60. Typically, the touch screen display 60 works in conjunction with a graphical user interface (GUI) presented on the display 60. For example, the GUI may present an on-screen button or user control on the display 60, and the touch screen display 60 may detect when a user presses the on-screen button (e.g., places their finger or stylus over the on-screen button). Aspects of the touch screen display 60 and GUI for the electronic device 50 are described in greater detail below.
The hand-held device 50 may be constructed with only cross-functional physical buttons, i.e., there are no buttons dedicated to individual device functionalities. These types of buttons may include power buttons and hold switches. In another embodiment, the hand-held device 50 may not include any physical buttons at all. In some embodiments, the physical buttons are limited to only the sides 56 and back surface 58 of the hand-held device 50. In other embodiments, the physical buttons of the hand-held device 50 are limited to the upper and lower portion of the sides 56 so that there are no buttons in the regions of the sides 56 where a user would physically support the device 50 (i.e., holding region). In still other embodiments, the physical buttons may be located on the front surface 54, but only in the bezel 55 surrounding the display 60. In some embodiments, the buttons may be located on only the top and bottom surfaces 57 of the device 50.
As shown in the embodiment of FIG. 3A, there are no physical buttons on the front surface 54 of the housing 52 so that the front surface 54 can be used almost entirely for the display 60. Further, because the side surfaces 56 are used for grasping the device 50, it may be preferred to leave the sides surfaces 56 free from buttons to prevent accidental actions in the event a user inadvertently presses a button while supporting the device 50. Although the top and bottom surfaces 57 would not typically be used to hold the device 50, these surfaces 57 are not ideal locations for buttons that are often actuated because it would be awkward to reach these buttons when operating the device 50 with one hand. Instead, the top surface 57 may be reserved for buttons that have limited action and generic functions that are cross-functional, for example, power and hold switches. The top and bottom surfaces 57 are also well suited for placement of I/O and communication ports. The top surface 57 may, for example, include a headset/microphone jack and an antenna, and the bottom surface 57 may include power and data ports.
In some cases, it may be desirable to place buttons in the upper or lower regions of the side surfaces 56 out of the way of the grasping hand of the user. This may be particularly well suited when the housing 52 of the device 50 is elongated more than the standard width of a user’s grasping hand. As shown in FIG. 3B, the hand-held device 50 includes a button 53 in the upper region on the right side surface 54 of the housing 52. Because the button 53 is in the upper region, it tends to be out of the way of the grasping hand and therefore accidental activation is substantially eliminated. In one embodiment, the upper button 53 may be configured to switch the functionality of the multi-functional device 50. For example, by pressing the button 53, a new device functionality is activated, and the current device functionality is deactivated. Although the term “button” is used, it should be appreciated that the button 53 may correspond to a dial, wheel, switch, or the like.
GUI User Controls, PDA Functionality
As discussed above, the touch screen display 60 typically works in conjunction with a GUI presented on the display 50. The GUI shows user controls on the touch screen display 60, which in turn responds to user touches made in regions of the touch screen display 60 corresponding to the displayed user controls. The entire touch screen display 60 or only a portion may be used to show the user controls.
Referring to FIG. 3C, for example, a GUI 70 for the electronic device 50 of FIG. 3A is separated into a standard region 72 and a control region 74 on the touch screen display 60. The standard region 72 represents what would normally be displayed on the display 60 when using the electronic device 50. That is, any standard GUI screens associated with the device 50 are displayed in the standard region 72. For example, when the device 50 is operated with a PDA functionality, a main menu (window with a set of icons), calendar, address book or date book may be displayed in the standard region 72.
On the other hand, the control region 74 virtually represents those physical controls 76 that would normally be physically placed on a particular type of electronic device. That is, the virtual controls 76 displayed in the control region 74 essentially mimic physical controls for a particular type of device. For example, when the device 50 is operated with a PDA functionality, the control region 74 may include virtual representations of a hand writing recognition area, a navigation pad, and the standard function buttons. The standard and control regions 72 and 74 can be positioned at any position on the display 60 (top, bottom, sides, center, etc.). For example, as shown in FIG. 3C, the control regions 72 and 74 may be positioned vertically relative to one another (one on top of the other) on the display 60.
In another example, FIG. 3D is a diagram of a GUI 80 that can be used with the electronic device 50 when operated in a music player functionality. Again, the GUI 80 is divided into a standard region 82 and a control region 84. Located inside the control region 84 are a virtual scroll wheel 86 and five virtual buttons 88..
In the embodiments of FIGS. 3A-3D, the electronic device 50 includes the touch screen display 60. In additional embodiments, the electronic device 50 according to certain teachings of the present disclosure may incorporate one or more touch sensitive surfaces (not shown) on the housing 52 of the electronic device 50 itself. These touch sensitive surfaces (not shown) can provide a large surface for tracking touch inputs or can provide small-dedicated areas, such as touch buttons, for performing dedicated functions. Furthermore, the one or more touch sensitive surfaces can be used in addition to or in the alternative to the touch screen display 60 discussed in the embodiment of FIGS. 3A-3D.
The touch sensitive surfaces may be located on any surface of the housing 52, any side of the housing 52, any portion of any side of the housing 52, or at dedicated locations on the surface of the housing 52. For example, the touch sensitive surfaces may be located on the sides 56 or back surface 58 of the housing 52 and may even be located at the bezel (55; FIGS. 3A-3B) located at the front surface 54 of the housing 52. In all of these cases, a large portion of the front surface 54 of the housing 52 is saved for the display 60 so that the viewing area of the hand-held electronic device 50 can be maximized.
Future iPod’s Chameleonic Nature
In one example, the electronic device 100 can be a picture frame having memory for storing digital pictures and for viewing on the display 110. In another example, the electronic device 100 can be a digital media device having the display 110, the touch sensitive bezel 120, and lacking most or all buttons or similar physical controls on the housing 52. In other examples, the electronic device can be an electronic game, a personal digital assistant, a multimedia device, a cellular telephone, a portable video player, a portable navigation device, or the like.
The bezel is touch sensitive and is used to obtain touch data from the user in response to touch events made by the user on the bezel. The electronic device uses the touch data obtained with the bezel to perform various operations and functions related to user interface and user control of the device. For example, the touch data obtained with the bezel can control what is displayed with the device, what files are played, what the volume level is, what the settings for the display are, etc.
As shown in FIG. 4, the visual guides 180 are preferably located near the perimeter of the display 110 so that the majority of the display 110 can be dedicated to showing content or the like. Preferably and as shown in FIG. 4, the visual guides 180 are superimposed over visual data (e.g., content, text, a picture, video, etc.) shown on the display 110. The visual guides 180 can be displayed consistently on the display 110 while the electronic device 100 is operating. Alternatively, the visual guides 180 may not be shown in most circumstances during operation and can be displayed only after the user touches a predetermined portion of the bezel 120 or makes some user configured preference, or moves the device 100.
During operation, the user can touch designated areas (e.g., outlined area-121) on the bezel 120 to initiate user controls for the electronic device 100. Some examples of possible user controls include menu operations, cursor operations, and data entry operations. The user interface software operating on the display 110 shows the visual guides 180 in positions adjacent the areas 121 on the bezel 120 designated to perform the user controls so the user may know the general area of the bezel 120 designated for the corresponding user control indicted by the adjacent visual guide 180. The designated areas 121 can be arbitrarily positioned and sized around the bezel 120 depending on the context or content of what is being displayed. The number of distinct areas 121 that can be designated depends on the size of the display 110 and the bezel 120 and depends on what type of touch sensitive sensors are used for the touch sensitive bezel 120. In one example, one edge of the bezel 120 that is about 4 to 5-inches in length may accommodate about one-hundred distinct areas that can be designated for user controls.
As shown in FIG. 5, the electronic device 200 can also include one or more sensors 270 coupled to the processing circuitry 240. The one or more sensors 270 can include a Mercury switch, an acceleration sensor, inclinometer sensor, an electronic compass, a light sensor, a motion sensor, or an orientation sensor. In one embodiment, the orientation sensor 270 is a 3-G accelerometer similar to what is used in gyro remotes or used in hard drives to detect free fall. The accelerometer 270 detects gravity and generates orientation data that can indicate which edge of the display 210 is “up,” “down,” “north,” or other direction. The processing circuitry 240 coupled to the accelerometer 270 determine the orientation of the electronic device 200 from the orientation data obtained from the sensor 270. The determined orientation can then be used to designate or alter the location of the areas 221 on the array 220 to mach the orientation of the device 200. In addition, the determined orientation can then be used to designate or alter the location of the visual guides 280 on the display 210 to mach the newly designated areas 221 on the array 220. Furthermore, the determined orientation can then be used to rotate or flip the content shown on the display 210 to match the orientation of the device 200
Display Orientation: Portrait or Landscape
In the example of FIGS. 9A-9B, orientation data from the orientation sensor 490 is used to alter the designation of the areas 471 for the user controls and the location of visual guides 480. In other embodiments, the orientation of the content to be displayed may dictate how the designation of the areas 471 for the user controls and the location of visual guides 480 should be for the device 450. For example, the display 460 of the electronic device 450 in FIGS. 9A-9B is rectangular and can be used to show content in “portrait” or “landscape” orientations. Depending then on the desired or required orientation for particular content (e.g., image, screen, user interface, or picture) to be shown on the display 460, the electronic device 450 can alter the designation of the areas 471 for the user controls and the location of visual guides 480 according to the “portrait” or “landscape” orientations of the content. In other words, when the device 450 is preparing to display particular content, the electronic device 450 can determine the particular orientation for that content. Then, when the device 450 switches to show that new content on the display 460, the electronic device 450 alters the designation of the areas 471 for the user controls and the location of visual guides 480 if the orientation of the newly displayed content is different from that previously displayed. Thus, the user can naturally rotate the device 450 to better view the newly displayed content in its preferred orientation (e.g., “portrait” or “landscape”), and the visual guides 480 and designated areas 471 will be already matched to the content’s orientation.
In FIG. 11, for example, the area 552 on the bezel 550 can be designated to adjust values, and the areas 562 of the adjacent side pad 560 can be designated to select various attributes of the display 540. Because the device 530 can be hand-held, the user can selected from the various attributes by touching an area 562 on the side pad 560 with the hand used to hold the device 530, and the user can then adjust the value for the selected attribute by touching the area 552 on the bezel 550 with a finger of the other hand. The side pad 560 can be either a large surface for tracking touch inputs or can includes a plurality of small dedicated surfaces, such as touch buttons, for performing dedicated functions. In yet an another alternative, the additional pads 560 can also be force sensitive so that a predetermined amount of force or pressure caused by a user touch is required to invoke the user control associated with the touched areas 562 of the pads 560.
In additional alternatives shown in FIG. 12, a touch sensitive bezel 590 according to the present disclosure can be arranged in a housing 572 around at least a portion of a display 580 of an electronic device 570. In general, the bezel 590 can include one or more discrete touch sensitive surfaces positioned in the housing 572 adjacent one or more sides of the display 580. On device 570A, for example, the bezel 590 has a plurality of discrete touch sensitive surfaces positioned in the housing 572 adjacent each side of the display 580. On device 570B, for example, the bezel 590 has a first touch sensitive surface positioned in the housing 572 adjacent three sides of the display 580 and has a second touch sensitive surfaces positioned in the housing 572 adjacent one side of the display 580. On device 570C, for example, the bezel 590 has a first and second touch sensitive surfaces positioned in the housing 572 adjacent opposing sides of the display 580. These and other alternative arrangements are possible for touch sensitive bezels according to the present disclosure.
The Menu Screen
In FIG. 15, a menu screen of the user interface 900 is displayed and lists various functions or features 902 (e.g., Music, Photos, Videos, etc.) that are available on the device 800. An area 822 of the bezel 820 adjacent a battery symbol 906 can be touched at any point during operation to access power settings for the device 800 without the user having to access the settings function 902 on the menu screen 900. A plurality of areas 824 on one side of the bezel 820 are designated for selection of one of the available functions or features 902, and visual guides 904 are provided on the perimeter of the bezel 820 adjacent the designated areas 824.
A user touching one of these areas 824 of the bezel 820 accesses a subsequent screen of the user interface 900 for the selected function or feature 902. It should be noted that the side of the housing 802 may include a touch sensitive pad (similar to pads 560 of FIG. 11) on a side of the housing 802, and areas (e.g., areas 562 of FIG. 11) of this side pad can be similarly designated.
In FIG. 16, the user has accessed the photo feature from the previous menu so that the display 810 shows a photo screen 910 listing various available photos 912. An area 826 on the left side of the bezel 820 is designated for scrolling up and down the list of photos 912, and a visual scroll guide 916 is provided at the perimeter of the display 810 adjacent the area 826. A plurality of areas 828 on the right side of the bezel 820 are designated for selecting to open a selected photo 912, and visual guides 914 for each photo 912 are provided adjacent these areas 828. An area 830 in the upper corner adjacent a close window icon 914 on the screen 910 is designated on the bezel 820 for closing the current screen 910 to return to the menu screen of FIG. 15.
Controls: Zoom, Contrast, Page Down, Scroll
In FIG. 17A, the display 810 shows a screen 920 having a selected photo (e.g., sunrise). A toggle area 831 of the bezel 830 in the lower right corner is designated to access and display additional user controls that are discussed below with reference to FIG. 17C. A visual guide 921 is provided on the display 810 adjacent this toggle area 831. A first area 832 on the bezel 820 is designated for moving to a previous photo of those available, and a second area 834 is designated for moving to a subsequent photo. Corresponding visual guides 922 are displayed adjacent these areas 832 and 834 on the bezel 820. Additional areas 836 and 838 on adjacent sides of the bezel 820 may be designated for any of a number of operations, such as zoom, contrast, brightness, page down, scroll, etc. In the present embodiment, visual guides are not shown adjacent these areas 836 and 838 so that the majority of the display 810 is unobstructed with elements of the user interface, and the screen 920 can primarily display the content (i.e., the sunrise photo). The user controls for which these areas 836 and 838 are designated may be already known or readily apparent to the user.
As shown in FIG. 17A, the device 800 is rectangular and is shown in a vertical (i.e., “portrait”) orientation. The user may rotate the device 800 so that it has a horizontal (i.e., “landscape”) orientation, such as shown in FIG. 17B. As discussed previously, the device 800 can have an orientation sensor (not shown), such as an accelerometer or an inclinometer, and can determine the orientation of the device 800. In FIG. 17B, the device 800 has determined the horizontal or landscape orientation.
Based on this determination, the device 800 has adjusted the orientation of the screen 920 showing the photo on the display 810 in a landscape orientation and has readjusted the location of all the areas on the bezel 820 designated for the various user controls.
If the user selects the toggle area 831 in the lower right corner, the screen 920 shows additional user controls. In FIG. 17C, for example, the toggle area 831 has been previously selected so that a new visual guide 925 is provided adjacent the area. In addition, a plurality of areas 840 on the bezel 820 are designated for a number of user controls, which have visual guides 928 shown on the display 810 adjacent the bezel 820. In this example, the user controls available for viewing photos include contrast, brightness, zoom, and move.
Now Playing on Your iPod
In FIG. 18, an example screen 930 listing songs is shown on the display 810 of the device 800. A plurality of areas 864 on the right side of the bezel 820 adjacent visual guides 934 for the listed songs can be used to select, highlight, or open the corresponding song.
An area 864 on the left side of the bezel 820 adjacent a scroll guide 934 can be used to scroll through the list of songs on the screen 930. If the user selects or highlights one of the listed songs, the user can select areas 850 to play/pause the song or areas 852, 854 to track forward or back from the selected song. These areas 850, 852, 854 have corresponding visual guides 935. The user can also select to add the selected song to a play list or can elect to view various play lists by selecting from additional areas 860 and 862 having visual guides 932. Depending on the amount of area of the display 810 available, one or more user controls 938 (e.g., volume level) can be displayed on the screen 930, and one or more unused areas 868 of the bezel 820 can be designated for the one or more user controls 938.
In FIG. 19, an example “now playing” screen 940 is shown on the display 810 of the device 800. The screen 940 shows information about the song that is currently being played on the device 800. As before, the area 850 on the bezel 820 is designated for play/pause user controls, and areas 852 and 854 are designated for previous track and next track, respectively. A plurality of areas 870 and 872 are provided on the sides of the bezel 820 adjacent various visual guides 942 corresponding to various user controls (e.g., time bar for song, equalizer selection, and volume level). In one possibility, the user can select to change the settings or values of any one of these user controls by tapping or holding on the areas 870 or 872 on either side of the adjacent visual guide 942 for a control to advance or reduce the setting or value. In another possibility, the user can select or highlight one of the user controls by tapping or holding on the areas 870 or 872 on either side of the adjacent visual guide 942 for a control, and the user can then advance or reduce the setting or value by sliding over an additional area 874 of the bezel 820 next to the visual guide 944 for adjustability.
The inventors listed on this patent application are Nick King, Duncan Kerr, Paul Herbst and Steven P. Hotelling.
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Written and researched by Neo.