iPads may one day detect, respond to cover devices

FIG. 1A shows a schematic view of an iPad, input devices, and corresponding sensor signals.

iPads may one day be able to detect and respond to cover devices such as Astropad’s Rock Paper Pencil. Apple has been granted a patent (number US 12001636 B2) for “Cover Layer Detection For Touch Input Devices.”

About the patent

The patent relates generally to apparatus, methods, and systems for controlling a touch input device. More particularly, it relates to detecting a cover layer or screen protector on a touch input device such as an iPad and taking actions to compensate for the changes to the usage of the device.

In the patent Apple notes that, although touchscreens provide an engaging interface for users, the cover glass can be fragile and susceptible to cracking or scratching. Additionally, the manufacturer-provided surface finish of the cover glass can be different from a user’s preference, such as by being more or less glossy than what the user prefers. 

Some users also prefer different cover glass textures for using different types of tools on the display. Many users therefore apply a screen protector to the cover glass to improve the durability, appearance, and functional characteristics of the cover glass. 

Screen protectors generally are made to cause minimal distortion to the images shown by the underlying display screen, but they can alter the light of the display screen in minor but perceptible ways. Apple is looking into ways for the iPad — and, likely, the iPhone — to react to covers.

Summary of the patent

Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “Computing devices and methods are used to detect and compensate for the presence of a cover layer on a touch input device. A computing device includes a processing device, a touch input device in electronic communication with the processing device, and a memory device in electronic communication with the processing device and having electronic instructions encoded thereon. 

“The electronic instructions, when executed by the processing device, cause the processor to receive a first signal obtained from the touch input device over a first duration of time, the first signal including a first signal pattern, receive a second signal obtained from the touch input device over a second duration of time separate from the first duration of time, the second signal including a second signal pattern, determine a difference between the first signal pattern and the second signal pattern, and adjust a touch input detection setting based on the difference.”

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Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.