There have been rumors that Apple was working on its own gamepad device for use with its Apple Arcade service. A newly granted patent (number 11,065,534) sows that the company is at least considering such a device.
About the patent
The patent, dubbed “thumbstick user input device and related methods,” notes that a joystick is a type of user input device, for example, for use with a gaming controller. A typical joystick includes a stick or shaft that is moved by a user relative to a center position to provide input, for example, 360-degree control in two dimensions. A joystick may be self-centering, for example, and may return to the center position when user input is removed.
However, one type of joystick is a thumbstick. Similarly to a joystick, a stick or shaft is moved by a user relative to a center position to provide input. However, unlike a joystick, for example, where the user’s hand is engaged with the shaft, a thumbstick includes a relatively short shaft that is operated by the user’s thumb. In other words, the shaft is sized so that the user cannot typically move the shaft by engaging the user’s whole hand. This is the type of game controller Apple is considering.
Summary of the patent
Here’s the abstract of the patent: “A thumbstick user input device may include a shaft carried by a housing and having an upper end extending outwardly beyond the housing for manipulation by the user’s thumb and a lower end within the housing. Sensors may be carried by the housing to sense shaft movement. A first contact member may be within the housing, and a spring may be between the first contact member and the shaft to urge the first contact member and the shaft apart.
“A motor may be carried at a bottom of the housing and may have a rotatable output extending upwardly therefrom. A second contact member may be coupled to the rotatable output and in contact with the first contact member to be selectively moveable upward or downward based upon motor rotation to set a spring compression and thereby set a return-to-center bias for the shaft while being manipulated by the user’s thumb.”