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A Configurable Button Patent From Apple Inc. (AAPL)

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From time to time, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is granted a patent that the rest of the world can actually understand. Today, this happens to be the case with its “Configurable buttons for electronic devices” patent.

While there is no way of saying for sure if Apple is ever going to put this patent technology to good use, as a consumer it is fun to take a closer look at this and wonder what it could mean to the future of the company and some of its many devices.

Apple Inc. (AAPL)Rather than try to explain the patent in great detail, it is easiest to read over the excerpt as provided by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL):

“Configurable buttons for electronic devices such as portable electronic devices are provided. A configurable button may have a button member that moves relative to a device housing when it is desired to activate a switch. The button may have an associated touch sensor. The touch sensor may detect when a user’s finger touches a particular portion of the button member. Contact with only this portion of the button member is generally inadvertent, so an actuator may be used to prevent or otherwise restrict motion of the button relative to a device housing. This prevents inadvertent activation of the button when a user is manipulating portions of an electronic device such as clip or lid, but does not intend to depress the button.”

While the entire patent is interesting, there are some points that appear to be more intriguing than others. For example, the ability to prevent inadvertent activation is something that could real add value to a variety of devices.

For more information on how this particular part of the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) patent works, let’s check out the summary:

“In situations such as these, the user’s finger may inadvertently touch a portion of a button. A touch sensor that is associated with the button may determine when a user is attempting to physically manipulate a clip, lid, cover, or other portion of an electronic device without intending to operate the button. When this condition is detected, control circuitry within the electronic device can direct an actuator to momentarily restrict motion of the button relative to the device.”

How cool is that? This is just another way that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is always thinking about the user experience.

The patent was first filed for on September 26, 2008. An image of the patent is available on the next page.

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