Apple’s New Patent – The iGlove?

By Joseph Mandour on March 15, 2011

gloves-thumb-200x132-33980 California – Capacitive touch-screens, such as those found on the Apple iPod, as well as many tablet PCs and smartphones, detect inputs through distortions in the screen’s electrostatic field. These distortions can be caused by the touch of a finger, thanks to the human body’s conductive properties. On the other hand, nonconductive materials such as fabric are unable to interact with the screen.

Since actions such as cleaning the screen with a cloth or keeping the device in a pocket will not activate the screen, this also means that a user will not be able to use their iPod or smartphone touchscreen while wearing gloves, a dilemma in times of cold weather. In its new patent for a “High Tactility Glove System,” Apple seeks to solve this problem by creating a system where a user can operate the touchscreen while keeping their gloves on and hands warm.

The patented glove consists of two layers, a thin inner liner and a thicker outer shell. The inner liner is made of an electrically conductive material, simulating the electrical properties of human skin. The thicker and more insulated outer shell contains apertures at the fingertips. Normally, these are kept closed, which can be done with an elastic ring surrounding the aperture or by having the aperture covered by a removable cap. However, when a user wearing the gloves wishes to use an electronic device, they can peel back the outer shell so that the inner liner protrudes through, where it is able to contact and interface with the device. After performing the desired operations, the liner is then withdrawn back into the shell.

The patent also claims an embodiment of the invention where the outer shell also contains a conductive portion electrically coupled to the inner liner, allowing the surface of the outer shell to interact with a touchscreen. However, the apertures still exist in this embodiment should the user wish to perform actions requiring more precision than would be practical with the bulkier outer shell.

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Posted in: Patent Registration