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Apple invention may one day replace 'pinch to zoom'

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
A new patent filing discovered on Thursday reveals Apple is looking into an automated zooming method that senses how close a person's face is to a device's display and scales the size of on-screen content accordingly, a technique that could one day enhance or even replace "pinch to zoom."

Scaling Patent
Source: USPTO


The invention, which was filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in May 2011, describes a system that uses on-board sensors like a camera, infrared proximity sensor or SONAR sensor, to determine the distance between a user's face and the display. By using this information, the system can enlarge or reduce text or images being displayed on screen for maximum readability and user comfort.

There are two modes outlined in the application's description: comfort mode and zoom mode.

In comfort mode, the device scales content to reduce in size when a user's face is close to the screen and enlarges it when it is farther away. This mode aims to "maintain the visual content at a comfortable size for the user regardless of how far the display is from the user's face. Thus, this mode of operation is referred to as comfort mode."

Scaling Operation


For zoom mode, the system reverses the above process and enlarges content, or zooms in, as a user brings the device close to their face and reduces, or pans out, when it is farther away. The embodiment may be useful in certain applications like games and mapping, as it "provides a convenient way to zoom in and out of visual content."

Essential to operation is a preliminary calibration procedure that asks a user to hold the device at various distances away from their face to gather reference data, which the system will later draw upon to scale content. Such calibration can include the closest comfortable viewing distance, the farthest comfortable viewing distance and any variations between the two.

Calibration


As described in one implementation, the mechanism can use a camera to determine distance from a user based on facial recognition techniques. The corresponding information is sent to a processor that uses the reference information as a key to regulate the dynamic sizing of on-screen content.

If Apple chooses to one day use the invention, a likely device could be a future iPhone or iPod touch as users constantly resize content with their fingers due to the devices' relatively small display size, and the portable form factor is an ideal candidate for the patent's described operation. The iPad and iPad mini could also make use of the tech, though the pinch to zoom heuristic is already convenient on larger format screens and is perhaps more comfortable than moving the device back and forth.
post #2 of 18
Why touch it? Cross your eyes to zoom.
post #3 of 18
I want something that tracks my eyes and scrolls pages smoothly as I read a document. So that the line I am reading is always in the center of the page.
post #4 of 18

If every smart UI idea is going to be patented, the game is over. Small developers cannot play this. The future of software and apps is Apple, Google and Microsoft.  The rest of us, mere mortals, better go to a farm and start planting tomatoes and potatoes (while using patented farm-management apps from Apple, Google, and Microsoft). I'm not a communist, nor a leftist (I'm more on the right), but all this patent flow is starting to make me really upset.

post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post

I want something that tracks my eyes and scrolls pages smoothly as I read a document. So that the line I am reading is always in the center of the page.

 

It's so long since I have worked in the field (1980s) but I was going to be clever and write that Apple could employ non-linear, optical materials such as Lithium niobate (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium_niobate) to construct optical systems to track the eye, when I discovered that this remarkable material is apparently already used in mobile phones.

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post #6 of 18
Actually, my first thought is a sort of pseudo-3D display more than just zooming. If a patent allows for one to measure distance from face and react accordingly, I'd imagine it'd have some funky AR applications in conjunction with the gyroscope and GPS. Don't know HOW it'd work or what it'd do, but it'll be interesting to see how this plays out.
post #7 of 18
Hmm apple should tread carefully. Samsung already has things like this in its shipping tablets. IF I enable it my note 10.1 will even lock itself if I am not looking at the tablet.
post #8 of 18
Samsung already has four people stealing this idea for the Galaxy S V LTE XL_JellyIceCreamHoneyBear Edition coming in 2014. They claim the patent is invalid since it acts like a real newspaper and they claim that's prior art.
post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by majortom1981 View Post

Hmm apple should tread carefully. Samsung already has things like this in its shipping tablets. IF I enable it my note 10.1 will even lock itself if I am not looking at the tablet.

Sounds like a nuisance feature.  When I use my iPad, I look away plenty of times, but I wouldn't want it to lock up just because I looked away.  It locks when I haven't used it for a particular amount of time, which is a settings that I can control.

 

 

A lot of these Android features tend to make a great demo, but not practical.  That's the biggest problem with Android OS, some of their features add more code, require more resources and then cause battery drain.

post #10 of 18
So if someone turns around and moves the phone it might wacky zoom, and it will either be two sensitive or your nose touch it. Apple needs to avoid something like this.
post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbeats View Post

Samsung already has four people stealing this idea for the Galaxy S V LTE XL_JellyIceCreamHoneyBear Edition coming in 2014. They claim the patent is invalid since it acts like a real newspaper and they claim that's prior art.

Oh yeah. My newspaper zooms the material so it becomes larger if I hold the paper farther from my eyes. 1oyvey.gif1rolleyes.gif

Personally, I don't see how this replaces pinch to zoom. Pinch to zoom allows you to select a portion of the page to make larger or smaller. If you are looking at a web page, for example, and see one picture that you want to look at more carefully, you zoom on that picture. I don't see how the current invention could replace that. The iDevice has no way of knowing what you want to enlarge.

It might be a useful invention, but it's not going to do what the title of this thread suggests.
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post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


Oh yeah. My newspaper zooms the material so it becomes larger if I hold the paper farther from my eyes. 1oyvey.gif1rolleyes.gif
Personally, I don't see how this replaces pinch to zoom. Pinch to zoom allows you to select a portion of the page to make larger or smaller. If you are looking at a web page, for example, and see one picture that you want to look at more carefully, you zoom on that picture. I don't see how the current invention could replace that. The iDevice has no way of knowing what you want to enlarge.
It might be a useful invention, but it's not going to do what the title of this thread suggests.

 

Yeah.  If they actually do this, they really should make it so you can turn this off completely.  I'm tired of AI doing things it thinks I want done.  I still use predictive text, even though it pisses me off a lot of the time.  Pretty agravating to try to text fast, but have to go back and change a word the AI thought I meant.

post #13 of 18

I'm sorry but this just seems like the dumbest invention ever to me.  Destined for the filing cabinet for certain, and unlikely to work at all IMO.  

post #14 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

The iDevice has no way of knowing what you want to enlarge.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigBillyGoatGruff View Post

Pretty agravating to try to text fast, but have to go back and change a word the AI thought I meant.

 

Since you can apparently patent anything, they might as well patent the feature that the phone actually knows what your are thinking and performs accordingly.

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post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbeats View Post

Samsung already has four people stealing this idea for the Galaxy S V LTE XL_JellyIceCreamHoneyBear Edition coming in 2014. They claim the patent is invalid since it acts like a real newspaper and they claim that's prior art.

Those four people must be pretty good thieves since they already have a solid start on this.  It was released about a year ago in the Galaxy S3  to track your eyes to determine if the screen should dim or not.  They are getting so brazen they are now 'pre-stealing' ideas from Apple.

 

It looks like Apple is just now getting around to patenting it and if they get around to actually release their own version a year or two from now it will be hyped as amazing and they'll claim to have 'invented' it :p

 

 

All these obstructionist patents whether Apple's, Android's, Microsofts, Oracles, and all these pure 'patent trolling' companies are absurd.  As it relates to electronic devices and software, only FRAND patents should stand- with the courts determining what 'fair and reasonable' is (I know that is tough- but its better than having the grantee determine what the price should be, which would only be slightly less absurd than having the users determine the price).  Patents would be legitimate and for the good of everyone, and everyone would have fair access.  Patents for ho-hum 'inventions' designed purely to obstruct competition should be invalidated en masse.

 

Small developers are already getting creamed by trolls and it is only going to get worse- especially when what were previously small time trolls are now starting to include names like  Microsoft, Oracle, Google, and Apple.

post #16 of 18
I just want to be able to look at picture and tell it to zoom in and enhance. The I can be happy.
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post #17 of 18

I see this being problematic for people with eye issues who might need reading glasses to get closer... I think they'll need to keep the finger-pinch functionality at a minimum.

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post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by monstrosity View Post

I want something that tracks my eyes and scrolls pages smoothly as I read a document. So that the line I am reading is always in the center of the page.


I hate stuff like that. I like to have some level of interaction regardless of what it is or how minimal the impact. Before someone says it, I have trouble sitting through movies.

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