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Apple Applies for a Touchscreen Gesture Patent 115

SuperMog2002 writes "According to an article in PC Magazine, Apple has submitted an application for a patent on "several methods of applying gestures to touch-sensitive input devices." Could there be a new form of tablet PC or PDA in Apple's future?"
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Apple Applies for a Touchscreen Gesture Patent

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  • Enough already. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by croddy ( 659025 ) on Saturday February 04, 2006 @06:13PM (#14643284)
    Argh! Enough already with the "doing foo... with a computer!" and "doing foo... on a mobile device!" patents. You're not impressing anybody.
  • Scratches? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Reaperducer ( 871695 ) on Saturday February 04, 2006 @06:17PM (#14643296)
    Has the tablet market come up with a way to deal with screen scratches? I think back to my trusty Palm IIIxe which after a few years suffered from horrible wear in the silk screen writing area. I'd hate to have dull spots on my computer screen where the GUI displays common elements.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 04, 2006 @06:29PM (#14643332)
      Has the tablet market come up with a way to deal with screen scratches?

      If anyone can figure out a way to prevent unsightly scratches on a portable device screen, I'm sure it will be Apple.
      • Strangely, I'll have to disagree. I'm a mild Apple fanboy, so don't let's get bent out of shape, but it seems they only care about the appearance until it's sold. The Powerbook G4 has a notorious problem with screen scratches because the tolerance between the screen and the keys is so little. And I've had four Powerbook G4's now -- from the original Titanium to the most recent 17", and they all have the same problem. I am careful and take good care of my stuff, but still get these screen scratches. You
    • Re:Scratches? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Has the tablet market come up with a way to deal with screen scratches?

      I don't know where you've been, but the solution has always been to use extraordinarily cheap static-cling screen cover sheets. I don't know how you could have used a Palm for years without knowing about them.
      • An even cheaper (partial) solution is a piece of clear tape over the writing area. Its width and the writing area's height are nearly identical.
    • Has the tablet market come up with a way to deal with screen scratches?

      Currently, litigation seems to be the solution of choice for screen scratches.

      In related news, attorneys have recently discovered that it is easier to file a law suit than it is to adjust the volume on a music playing device.
    • Has the tablet market come up with a way to deal with screen scratches?

      Well, we could sputter diamond-form carbon coatings on screens, at a cost of only a couple of hundred bucks per unit...

      • Only a couple hundred bucks per unit? Sign me up!

        (said as someone that bought a Newton MP 2100, haha, but eventually also bought much cheaper Palm Pilots and Visors)
        • Only a couple hundred bucks per unit? Sign me up!

          Ok... That's one. Get back to us when you're ready to place a million-unit order.

    • That was solved many many years ago by not using touch senstive 'mats'. Instead you use active 'pointers'.

      Of course if you lose your pointer you are totally screwed, but at least scratches in the surface dont hurt you and you can use much stronger materials. They are also more expensive..
    • Look at the Nintendo DS, it has a really good scratch-resistant screen that has stood up under what the average gamer puts it through. I bought mine used and it had no scratches on it, I wouldn't do that with any other portable system (buy it used)! The PSP's is not too bad either [].
  • Palms have had this for awhile have they not? Not handwriting recognition - you could, say, drag the pen from top to bottom and the backlight would come on.
    • Palms have had this for awhile have they not?

      Maybe Apple can claim they were there first with the Newton. It is more cost effective to wait and see if something catches on before applying for the patent.

    • Re:Palm OS (Score:3, Informative)

      by spectral ( 158121 )
      yeah, but you had to use a pen there! [] is probably more like what they were considering, except now there's a screen under it, so you pick up on the icon itself, instead of moving the pointer and then doing a pick up motion! *I haven't read the article*
      • You don't have to use a pen (stylus) with a palm pilot. You could, but you didn't have to. For the gestures you can use fingers, and they are not very exact. For writing you have to be a little more precise, but even a fingernail works well.
    • Re:Palm OS (Score:5, Informative)

      by dr.badass ( 25287 ) on Saturday February 04, 2006 @07:18PM (#14643496) Homepage
      Palms have had this for awhile have they not? Not handwriting recognition - you could, say, drag the pen from top to bottom and the backlight would come on.

      Palms only recognize one point at a time. The patent covers multi-point gestures, like (as described), zooming in on a point by simultaneously selecting the point with one finger and using another to control the zoom.

      The post title, summary, and the article itself all make it sound like Apple is patenting all touch-screen gestures, but that's not what the patent application itself says.
    • Apple's implementation is much snappier!
    • >>Palms have had this for awhile have they not? Not handwriting recognition - you could, say, drag the pen from top to bottom and the backlight would come on.

      Perhaps, but the Apple Newton Messagepad supported gestures (scratch back and forth to erase, Tap & hold to select, upward stroke to capitalise first letter or whole word, tap & drag to edge of screen to copy, etc.) way back when Palm was just a software company with only one product -- Grafitti, a text-input program for the early Newtons
  • Maybe... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Eightyford ( 893696 ) on Saturday February 04, 2006 @06:21PM (#14643304) Homepage
    Maybe I had it right when I came up with the iPod Touch [], a while back.
  • Apple did some really great things with the Newton. They were a little too early, though. Competitors like Palm and Casio did them one better in marketing and ubiquity (probably price, too, if I remember). The Newton and eMate are great, but didn't make it.

    Apple waited a bit before coming out with a portable music player (didn't make a CD player, and watched the first few MP3-Type players hit market). In this case, they did a great job of design and marketing. It's been a hit ever since.

    Now, Apple has m
  • YRO? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Distinguished Hero ( 618385 ) on Saturday February 04, 2006 @06:27PM (#14643326) Homepage
    What exactly does this have to do with my rights online?
    • Re:YRO? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by joe 155 ( 937621 ) on Saturday February 04, 2006 @06:32PM (#14643344) Journal
      i think its because apple is applying for the patent, this will make it more difficult for developments in the future based around similar technologies just with different makers. The idea, if they can make it work well, will no doubt be a key feature in future devices when the push to make them smaller means less space for buttons etc... Holding back this is bad for the free market, therefore bad for your rights as a consumer
      • I think it's because apple is applying for a patent on something that is pretty obvious to anybody skilled in the art, and has actually been done in about 17 other places. Just check around this story for lots of examples.
        • Re:YRO? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by dr.badass ( 25287 )
          I think it's because apple is applying for a patent on something that is pretty obvious to anybody skilled in the art, and has actually been done in about 17 other places. Just check around this story for lots of examples.

          The only thing there are lots of examples of is people not reading the patent application but thinking they know what it's about anyway.

          Also, what "art" does one have to be skilled in for it to be so "obvious"?
    • User ineterface patents are causing much trouble to users! Imagine to start acquiring patents on accesibility technology! This would be an obvious matter our rights online!

      In a simpler case, just think that windscreen wiper's switch control is a switch and not a turning knob (continues) just because of a patent.

      I assume that the poster thought that you should care more about freedom-of-use than aples's-new-gadgets, and categorized that way.

    • What do you think handhelds, things you touch, and Palms have to do with what you do online?

      Hmmm. . .

  • More Prior Art (Score:4, Informative)

    by Grey Ninja ( 739021 ) on Saturday February 04, 2006 @06:29PM (#14643334) Homepage Journal
    B&W, Palm, etc. have already been mentioned as having prior art. Honestly, this is why I hate corporations like that. But I think there's another party [] who also has prior art on such a thing. I mean, these kinds of patents are just stupidly ridiculous.
  • I'd be pretty happy to see this wind up being a prelude to a product to compete with Sony's ereader. I'd really like an ereader, but have no interest in anything sony sells.
    • One division of Sony comes up with some nefarious software, and this makes you really, really angry. So angry, in fact, that you make a sacrifice: you refuse to buy a damn good product (one made by an entirely separate division of Sony) that you'd really like to have. Well done, we're all aplauding you.

      However, Apple goes and patents an 'innovation' so trivial that it wouldn't even have occured to most of us that it might be patentable. By patenting it, they deny the rest of the world the opportunity to m
      • Re:apple ireader (Score:2, Informative)

        Actually, Apple practically invented the whole handheld PC industry with the Newton. It wasn't a "pre-existing technique", they had it first.

        Plus, I believe that prior art is not subject to copyright law, so things like the Palm Pilot, the Nintendo DS, and other things are exempt.

        Not that I agree with Apple doing this. Part of the reason that they do this is probably because of their past when they got totally screwed over by MS, and they just don't want it to happen again.

        And Sony has no right to g

        • Re:apple ireader (Score:3, Informative)

          They invented the PDA, not the "Hand held PC" industry. Casio, Sharp, and Psion were selling pocketable, handheld, personal computers throughout most of the eighties (the Psion Organiser series was pretty much a yuppie icon at one point.) All were programmable in a high level language (which could be done on the machine itself) and most in assembly if need be; they all included removable storage and had alphanumeric input features.

          If you're talking literally about handheld PCs (as in PC clones), then Atar

  • by jeti ( 105266 ) on Saturday February 04, 2006 @07:11PM (#14643483) Homepage
    As far as I can make out, each claim specifically mentions a multipoint touchscreen. Unlike the touchscreens normally used in PDAs, it can register pressure at several points simultaneously. Furthermore all described gestures need the screen to be touched at several places at once. But since the patent mentions virtual controls, I wouldn't really describe the interaction as a gesture. Gestures typically are not performed on a control.

    Please take that into account when you try to come up with prior art.
    • There's a zoom gesture that doesn't involve a control - they show the user parting two fingers to zoom a map in on part of California.
      • I haven't used anything with a touchscreen in a while, but I don't remember any Palm Pilots or tablet PCs that can register two points of contact at once - it must be doing something special to recognize that they're touching the screen in two places.
    • I guess you've never spun a volume-control knob or a station dial before? Or moved a slider to change a setting? Even (as dumb as it is) patenting circle-forward, circle-backwards and sliding in an arbitrary direction would be a huge area covered. And due to it's "unique and inventive" use on a virtual touch-screen (since nobody has a consumer product out there that does that), it's potentially patentable.

      My favorite patent example is the weed-whacker: It's not that glueing some plastic thread to an RC-
  • by musonica ( 949257 ) on Saturday February 04, 2006 @07:26PM (#14643522) Homepage
    one of the new patents will include "navigating interface via tongue", cause we all know apples aqua UI is sooo good you want to lick it?
    *runs away and hides*
  • by ajwitte ( 849122 ) <> on Saturday February 04, 2006 @08:00PM (#14643646) Homepage
    Honestly, I wish people would quit saying "Apple/Microsoft/Google/FooCorp is evil because they applied for patent X", even if the patent is for something really obvious (like this one seems to be) or stupid. Given the current legal climate, companies are forced to obtain patents like these so they can defend themselves against (usually smaller) companies that would otherwise get the patents later on (or dredge up old, semi-related patents) and then bring lawsuits. Save the complaints for companies that actually abuse patents (Eolas comes to mind), and the USPTO and the legal system that allow this **** to continue. Also, to the people who keep pointing out "prior art"... please note that this patent application is for a MULTI-POINT touch interface.
    • The patent application is for gestures on a multi-point touch interface, not just a multi-point interface alone. If they're the first ones to develop a multi-point pad, fine, patent it. Patenting GESTURES is still ridiculously stupid and there is plenty of prior art there.
  • usually people here are more uptight about patents, but when apple does it...
  • prior art or not, Figure 6A is interesting: shows the user dialing a rheostate or safe dial like device, presumably a visual control on the display.

    If it's really multi-point, wouldn't this make an interesting biometric authorization system?
    Something you have:
    1) finger pattern and spacing of user as they "hold" dial
    2) speed and pause of the motion of spinning the dial
    Something you know:
    3) the safe combination

  • Think video iPod with the full front of the device as the screen, and the touch wheel just that. The wheel would only be visible when you were using it, alpha'd over the video being displayed.
  • by Utopia ( 149375 ) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @03:43AM (#14644874)
    Vista also has touch screen guestures in the current beta2 builds.
    Funny this article come up today. I have been playing with the touchscreen tablet UI in Vista all day.
  • I didn't RTA, though owning an iPod the first thing I think of is how the clickwheel responds to volume and tracking - rewind/foward - gestures. I would think that if anything Apple is adding more protection to it's iPod intellectual property.
  • The Newton had some limited gesture recognition, such as "scratching out" text or graphic to erase it. This was one of the features that made the Newton so incredibly easy and fun to use. IMHO, neither Palm nor Microsoft has been able to top it (I have a PocketPC device and it is proof positive that MS just doesn't get it).
  • I think they are trying to redo their touchstream patents or something. They already bought the company, why reapply?

    See [] for more on their buyout that we have gathered.

    This is what has led to the halt of production of our great keyboards. We have full 10 fingered gesture control, which is why I don't use a mouse or trackball for input, let alone any of the usual shortcut keys. Hope to ot get RSI or any of that crap either...
  • by John Nowak ( 872479 ) on Sunday February 05, 2006 @02:29PM (#14646516)
    Just to correct some people here, multi-touch pads already exist and work very well: []
  • I have a Sony RM-AV2100 remote control [] which, when programming it, requires you to hold the reset LCD button down while touching a second button, to reset the second button's function.

    From the second page of that review [], here's this: You may remove pre-programmed buttons from view by holding it and the RESET button at the same time...

    From what I've read of the patent, isn't this exactly what they are patenting?

  • A company called JazzMutant [] makes a multiple-point touchscreen with customisable controls, used to drive virtual synths and audio workstations. It's lovely, and I want one. I wonder if this counts as prior art? It's certainly closer than the people talking about PDAs I think...
  • ...a comment I posted on Slashdot in June 02: 840 []

    Recognize multiple touch points?(Score:1)
    by sonamchauhan (587356) on Saturday June 22, @08:51AM (#3748840)
    (Last Journal: Friday January 21, @11:08AM)
    It's good to know this tablet can measure pressure -- but it would be nice if touch screens recognized multiple SIMULTANEOUS points of contact. All the touchscreens I've 'touched' only function as a type of mouse (i.e. use a single contact point to define sin

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