TrackPoint is a center red button found in ThinkPad keyboards that can be used to scroll through documents or Web pages. It can also be used to activate a magnifying glass that enlarges items on the screen. It is popular among limited set of users. Recently, Microsoft has filed a patent for similar pointing device. Microsoft’s proposed pointing device will come with a sensor having an input surface to detect a user’s tactile interaction and a depressed portion.
A low-profile, small-footprint gel-based pointing device is described herein. In various embodiments, the gel-based pointing device described herein includes a gel-based body, a tactile surface affixed to a first side of the gel-based body, and a base surface affixed to a second side of the gel-based body that is opposite the first side. The tactile surface is configured to receive an input from a user. The base surface affixes the gel-based body to a sensor surface. In some embodiments, the gel-based pointing device described herein further includes a sensor for receiving the gel-based pointing device and a detector for detecting changes in at least one of resistance, capacity, pressure, lateral position, and/or vertical position in response to movement of the pointing device.
Microsoft has also described a case when this gel-based pointing device is combined with optical sensor, it can be used to authenticate users through fingerprint. Have you used Lenovo TrackPoint in the past? Do you think Microsoft should bring this idea to their devices?
Read the full patent here.