Apple granted patent for touchscreen proximity sensor

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
As Apple is expected to introduce its long-awaited tablet today, the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office granted the hardware maker ownership for inventing a touchscreen with a built-in proximity sensor.



Several high-profile Apple employees are credited with the patent, including designer Jonathan Ive, engineer Steve Hotelling, and the "father of the iPod," Tony Fadell, who left Apple in 2008. Originally filed for on Sept. 30, 2005, the patent -- which shows a large, tablet-like touchscreen device -- was finally granted by the USPTO Tuesday.



The invention describes a touchscreen that can sense objects, like fingers, in close proximity. Fingers could be sensed when they are close to the touchscreen, but not actually touching it. The portable device could also take certain actions when it detects an object.



Such technology could be used in a variety of applications, from allowing full control without touching the screen using "proximity gestures," or simply waking a device from "sleep mode" when someone is near it.



The described proximity sensor could detect location, direction, speed and orientation of a finger relative to its surface. It could also dynamically change the user interface to allow input options for users when a finger is detected in close proximity.



"(The system)... may allow the display... to keep GUI controls and tools hidden until a user makes a motion to use the touch screen... or other input device," the patent reads. "The GUI controls and tools that pop up when a finger is detected may be standard set of tools or they may be based on other factors including location of the finger and/or the application currently running in the computing device."







"For example, in a music application, an onscreen control box that includes menu, play/pause, seek, and the like may be presented when a user hovers their finger above the user interface (especially the input portion of the user interface)," it continues. "Alternatively, an onscreen scroll wheel may be presented so that a user can scroll through a list of songs. Once the GUI control element is presented, the user may make selections associated therewith by using one of the input devices provide by the computing device (e.g. touch screen) or by performing a proximity gesture."



The system could address the problem of fingers getting in the way of the display on a touchscreen device. For example, if a series of selectable options were presented, they could be enlarged when a finger approaches them, making them easier to read as a finger or hand blocks part of the selection.







Apple's proximity sensing touchscreen patent was one of 13 granted by the USPTO this week. The others deal with a variety of technologies, including bandwidth, streaming multimedia, and color management.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    Isn't this kind of a feature one of the patents that Nokia is claiming they have that the iPhone supposedly infringes upon? Doesn't this show that claim is total BS? Or is it that just the mere difference in the size of the device having such a feature means you can get a separate patent for the feature based on that alone? If so, wouldn't that imply that there is something broken with patent laws?
  • Reply 2 of 19
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,724member
    Nice to know but I don't see any evidence that Apple's patents that SJ mentioned at the iPhone's introduction preventing everyone and their dog copying the iPhone.
  • Reply 3 of 19
    mactrippermactripper Posts: 1,328member
    I predicted this type of interface would come, said it would be based upon the front mounted iSight camera and some fancy software reading the fingers.



    Said something like: Imagine holding a imaginary pen in your hand, then extending your index finger out a little and signing the screen without touching it. To make the pointer bigger you move your finger in and small by moving it out.



    I also said multiple finger swipes will scroll pages and flipping them too.



    I also predicted the iTablet will replace the MacBook line, have the iPhone OS, build upon and be locked to content from the App Store.



    I also predict the eventual demise (will take a long time of course) of the open version of OS X on Mac's as more and more people opt to using the new tablets and Apple introduces newer models. Mac's will become "Pros' only devices.



    I also predicted the new tablets will come in colors.



    I also predict that the Apple wireless keyboard will work with the Tablet as a optional accessory.



    Lets see how much I'm right today.
  • Reply 4 of 19
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bowser View Post


    Isn't this kind of a feature one of the patents that Nokia is claiming they have that the iPhone supposedly infringes upon? Doesn't this show that claim is total BS? Or is it that just the mere difference in the size of the device having such a feature means you can get a separate patent for the feature based on that alone? If so, wouldn't that imply that there is something broken with patent laws?



    The entire patent office is a joke. It seems nothing is decided without a court case.
  • Reply 5 of 19
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post


    I predicted this type of interface would come, said it would be based upon the front mounted iSight camera and some fancy software reading the fingers.



    I said something like: Imagine holding a imaginary pen in your hand, then extending your index finger out a little and signing the screen. To make the pointer bigger you move your finger in and small by moving it out.



    I also said multiple finger swipes will scroll pages and flipping them too.



    Lets see if I'm right today.



    Well done, your mother must be very proud.
  • Reply 6 of 19
    mactrippermactripper Posts: 1,328member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TomHicks View Post


    Well done, your mother must be very proud.





    My mom is dead you insensitive clod.
  • Reply 7 of 19
    Just read this identical breaking news on Engadget. Who is copying the others headlines and stories?
  • Reply 8 of 19
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,989member
    Got a link to the patent in question?



    This was applied for in 2005.



    When did Nokia apply for such a patent?



    When was it granted?



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bowser View Post


    Isn't this kind of a feature one of the patents that Nokia is claiming they have that the iPhone supposedly infringes upon? Doesn't this show that claim is total BS? Or is it that just the mere difference in the size of the device having such a feature means you can get a separate patent for the feature based on that alone? If so, wouldn't that imply that there is something broken with patent laws?



  • Reply 9 of 19
    ilogicilogic Posts: 298member
    This is just a ploy to get your CC information onto the computer before your change your mind making a purchase...
  • Reply 10 of 19
    You're close with many of these, and consistent with the teasers about new ways in which users will interact. Replacing laptops and even OS X won't happen without equal/better ways to create content rather than just consume it. Think more along the lines of an evolutionary fusion of the two operating systems and associated (and increasingly versatile) portable devices.
  • Reply 11 of 19
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    Just read this identical breaking news on Engadget. Who is copying the others headlines and stories?



    Does it matter? As long as it's right (and fun).
  • Reply 12 of 19
    mactrippermactripper Posts: 1,328member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    ...Apple's proximity sensing touchscreen patent was one of 13 granted by the USPTO this week. The others deal with a variety of technologies, including bandwidth, streaming multimedia, and color management.





    Let me guess, they just so happened to grant the patent today of ALL days!



    Methinks Apple requested the USPTO hold the publishing of that patent until today.
  • Reply 13 of 19
    mactrippermactripper Posts: 1,328member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    Just read this identical breaking news on Engadget. Who is copying the others headlines and stories?





    The USPTO made the press release so nobody is copying anyone.



    Sites like that, and Apple especially, are monitored constantly for changes and stories written fast to make news.



    It just so happens, especially in this charged environment of a new Apple product launch day, to have one or more news organizations write the same type story at the same time.



    I'm sure you figured this out by now.
  • Reply 14 of 19
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    Does it matter? As long as it's right (and fun).



    I don't know who was first, but one may have seen the other and posted their old reporting with an update. I doubt either site has the manpower to keep eyeballs on every potential source or leak at all times.
  • Reply 15 of 19
    mactrippermactripper Posts: 1,328member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by call-151 View Post


    You're close with many of these, and consistent with the teasers about new ways in which users will interact. Replacing laptops and even OS X won't happen without equal/better ways to create content rather than just consume it. Think more along the lines of an evolutionary fusion of the two operating systems and associated (and increasingly versatile) portable devices.



    I think the new Tablet is going to address all that.



    Basically the mouse/trackpad will be replaced by fingers gestures.



    The UI will be different than the iPhone UI, similar, but more tailored for the tablet.



    Keyboard, well, if you need a real keyboard, Apple's wireless keyboard will work with it.
  • Reply 16 of 19
    jahonenjahonen Posts: 364member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by hill60 View Post


    Got a link to the patent in question?



    This was applied for in 2005.



    When did Nokia apply for such a patent?



    When was it granted?



    Again. I'm no patent expert, but could he be referring to this one?



    http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-P...S=PN/6,518,957



    Applied 2000, granted 2003



    It's about detecting the ear of the user and changing the phone's behaviour based on that. He may be referencing some other patent as well. The whole patent stuff is way too complicated for any mortal human.



    Regs, Jarkko
  • Reply 17 of 19
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Bowser View Post


    Isn't this kind of a feature one of the patents that Nokia is claiming they have that the iPhone supposedly infringes upon? Doesn't this show that claim is total BS? Or is it that just the mere difference in the size of the device having such a feature means you can get a separate patent for the feature based on that alone? If so, wouldn't that imply that there is something broken with patent laws?



    It's not the Patent Laws are broken, it's the government that's broken and it just shows the BS of the Federal Government and the Bureaucracy! Simple meaning... the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing.



    Nokia probably did receive a similar patent, and now Apple has theirs!



    It's like the FAR's (Federal Aviation Regulations) that guide us pilots when flying, but it is in government lawyer speak. So, if we have a question regarding its meaning, we call our local FSDO office (Flight Standards District Office) that are staffed with FAA personnel like Designated Pilot Examiners and such.



    Anyway, long story short... provide your question to person A you get one answer... provide the same question to person B, you get a different answer... it's subjective and not clear cut black and white! It's job security for someone... Or a conspiracy, to say the least, from Patent Lawyers...
  • Reply 18 of 19
    successsuccess Posts: 1,039member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacTripper View Post


    My mom is dead you insensitive clod.



    I don't have a wife, my parents are dead.
  • Reply 19 of 19
    joe hsjoe hs Posts: 488member
    why are patent pictures always so crudely drawn?
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