Imagine if your mouse was more like a games controller, providing feedback as you navigated your desktop. Well, Apple's certainly had that idea—and described it in this recently approved patent for a mouse that reacts to your use.
The "Force Sensing Mouse" patent describes how sensors in a mouse could measure the level and location of forces exerted on it main button. It also explains how an integrated haptics systems could be employed for providing feedback.
The patent suggest that a strain gauge could be used to measure the forces applied by a user, while haptic feedback could be provided by an electromagnet or vibration motors. However its done, the patent explains that the result could be a far more nuanced way of using a mouse. Apple Insider explains:
In practice, a user moves a UI cursor over an icon an exerts a first force (button press) to select the asset, which triggers a preset feedback force. A second, harder level of pressure induces the execution of a command, like opening an app or folder, while the mouse responds in kind with a more intense vibration. In this way, the user is able to navigate, select and activate graphical assets with one button press, getting feedback along the way.
There are different takes on this theme included in the patent, along with details for left, right and central presses, but you get the idea. Actually it all sounds pretty... great, actually. A far more sophisticated mouse that, in reality, would probably be quite subtle in the way it worked.
Obviously, we have no idea whether Apple intended to put something like into production; arguably, with the increased of use of trackpads and touchscreens, mouse innovation is probably a dying art. But for those who still push a mouse around their desk, the future may well, possibly, maybe, perhaps be just a little more interactive. [USPTO via Apple Insider]