Apple Granted Patents For Mouse, Portable User Accounts

Apple on Tuesday was granted a pair of patents by the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office, one for a mouse that can be clicked with the palm, rather than the finger, and one for a method allowing a user to place relevant information on a portable device and take it to another computer, where they can log in and continue working.

The mouse patent improves on mice previously produced for Apple. The filing explains: "It is desirable to provide an electro-mechanical switch preferably in the form of a button for a mouse configured in an improved manner to provide convenience and comfort for users. These users include those having very large hands, those having very small hands and those having the ill fortunes to suffer from finger deformity." It describes a mouse that a user can click with their wrist, rather than with their finger.

Apple explained in its filing for the other patent: "There is a need for improved techniques to enable user accounts to be portable such that a user can carry their user account with them and login to any multi-user computer system that supports portable user accounts." The document specifically references Mac OS X, noting: "A few sophisticated users have modified operation of existing operating systems, such as Mac OS X, to provide some portability to their user account from a work computer to a home computer."

However, such an effort "requires specialized software tools to manipulate and modify the data structures for a user account in a database," Apple explained. Thus, the company looked to develop an easier way to achieve the same thing, noting: "In one embodiment, the external, portable data store can not only store the user account but can also provide general data storage. In another embodiment, the external, portable data store can be a portion of a portable computing device (e.g., media player) that provides other functionality besides data storage." The media player in question could conceivably be an iPod, but Appleis filing doesnit offer any specifics.

Thanks to MacNN for the heads-up.