Future AirPods, Apple Pencils, and even iPhones could respond to your squeeze. Apple has been granted a patent (number 10,659,866) for an “elastomeric pressure transduction based user interface.”
In the patent, the tech giant says that it’s often desirable for the user of an electronic device to be able to adjust properties of the audio communications, such as volume, without contacting the electronic device but instead applying an input to the earpiece by physical contact. Mechanisms such as buttons or scroll wheels can be used, but may introduce noise into the earpiece. Apple alternative is “squeezable” gadgets.
Here’s the summary of the invention: “Disclosed herein are electronic devices having a deformable surfaces through which a user can provide inputs to the device by applying a force such as a pinch or a squeeze. A particular embodiment is an earpiece with the deformable surface part of an elongate section extending from an earbud. The deformable surface includes an incompressible hyperelastic material and a pressure sensor.
“The pressure sensor includes a pressure sensing element and a void defined between the pressure sensing element and the incompressible hyperelastic material. An applied force is transferred by the incompressible hyperelastic material to compress the void and change an internal pressure thereof. The changed pressure is detected by the pressure sensor, and can result in changed operation of the electronic device.”