Apple awarded several key multi-touch patents

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
A batch of approved patent applications from Apple issued by the U.S. Patent Office this week include descriptions of significant multi-touch innovations, such as pinch-to-zoom and knob controls.



The United States Patent and Trademark Office posted Tuesday 18 approved patents by Apple. The patents range from the design of accessories such as Apple's wireless keyboard and universal dock to groundbreaking development of the iPhone's multi-touch interface. Several patents among this most recent group build upon previous patents awarded to Apple that protect the company's research into multi-touch gestures and interfaces.



Perhaps the most significant of Tuesday's patents is that for a "Portable electronic device with multi-touch input." The application includes drawings of early mock-ups of the iPhone and its interface.



The patent application describes a method of detecting one or more contacts on a multi-touch-sensitive display and performing a corresponding operation. Multi-touch gestures listed include "magnifying, zooming, expanding, minimizing, resizing, rotating, sliding, opening, closing, focusing, flipping, reordering, activating, deactivating and any other operation that can be performed on a graphical object."



The document goes on to detail an "intuitive" zooming feature. "A user can place an index finger and thumb on the sides, edges or corners of the graphical object and perform a pinching or anti-pinching gesture by moving the index finger and thumb together or apart, respectively," it noted. "The operation initiated by such a gesture results in the dimensions of the graphical object changing."







Also included in the application is the use of multi-touch for "parameter adjustment." By interacting with a graphical object, such as a virtual knob, users can touch the display to adjust volume and other parameters. In a description of the process, the document notes that the software would employ a customizable timer to allow the user to break contact with the device while adjusting a parameter and then reestablish contact to continue the operation.







Scott Forstall, senior vice president of iPhone software, is listed as one of the inventors, in addition to Bas Ording, Greg Christie, Stephen O. Lemay, and Imran Chaudhri. The patent application was filed on Dec. 29, 2006, just weeks before the announcement of the original iPhone.



Other notable multi-touch related patents awarded Tuesday are for a "Simultaenous sensing arrangement" and "Ellipse fitting multi-touch surfaces". The latter describes a method for tracking a users' fingers and palms and identifying functions such as "typing, resting, pointing, scrolling, 3D manipulation, and handwriting" based on intuitive hand configurations.



It is as yet unclear to what extent Apple will be able to protect the patents issued this week. Before Google's release of its G1 smartphone, Apple reportedly asked the rival to leave multi-touch out of the handset. The G1 did lack a pinch-to-zoom feature, suggesting that Google had complied with Apple's alleged request, although multi-touch eventually made its way into the Android OS and onto several Android-based handsets, including Google's own Nexus One.



Earlier this year, Apple went after handset maker HTC for alleged infringement of 20 of its patents. "We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We've decided to do something about it," Apple CEO Steve Jobs said regarding the HTC case. "We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours."



Nokia and Apple are also involved in a legal battle over patents. Last week, Motorola joined the fray by suing Apple, accusing it of violating 18 of its patents.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 67
    Pinch to zoom seems kind of intuitive for any device..
  • Reply 2 of 67
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Earlier this year, Apple went after handset maker HTC for alleged infringement of 20 of its patents. "We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We've decided to do something about it," Apple CEO Steve Jobs said regarding the HTC case. "We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours."



    I have always wondered, since Apple sued HTC but not Google (even after the Nexus One) if this suit relates to Android itself or the Sense UI overlay on HTC phones.
  • Reply 3 of 67
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iPad999 View Post


    Pinch to zoom seems kind of intuitive for any device..



    Lots of things seem intuitive after they're done.
  • Reply 4 of 67
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iPad999 View Post


    Pinch to zoom seems kind of intuitive for any device..



    Had also been around since the early 90s making it a bit odd for apple to now have a patent on it. Or is it really perfectly acceptable just to add the words "on a portable device" to the end of an idea and its considered completely new.
  • Reply 5 of 67
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by timgriff84 View Post


    Had also been around since the early 90s making it a bit odd for apple to now have a patent on it. Or is it really perfectly acceptable just to add the words "on a portable device" to the end of an idea and its considered completely new.



    Well that's exactly it. Such fine wording in these.

    I'm not complaining or smiting AAPL, I just don't always agree with every little thing being patented by just changing small details. Plus if more people can use a technology, it will only improve faster or other technologies come out, and benefit the buyers. IMO
  • Reply 6 of 67
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by timgriff84 View Post


    Had also been around since the early 90s making it a bit odd for apple to now have a patent on it. Or is it really perfectly acceptable just to add the words "on a portable device" to the end of an idea and its considered completely new.



    It seems crazy doesn't it?!?!



    I think Apple and Microsoft are going to continue to pepper a lot of the smaller manufacturers with lawsuits. HP might get in on the action as well with their Palm patent portfolio.



    It's probably the one thing that is going to hold back Android a little bit.
  • Reply 7 of 67
    rainrain Posts: 538member
    I saw pinch to zoom and all the other gestures in the movie 'Minority Report' back in 2002.

    Steven Spielberg should sue Apple for patent rights.
  • Reply 8 of 67
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by shadash View Post


    I have always wondered, since Apple sued HTC but not Google (even after the Nexus One) if this suit relates to Android itself or the Sense UI overlay on HTC phones.



    It's a combination of the hardware and software design patents.
  • Reply 9 of 67
    docno42docno42 Posts: 3,313member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by shadash View Post


    Lots of things seem intuitive after they're done.



    Exactly. If it was so intuitive why was Apple the first to tie it all together?
  • Reply 10 of 67
    docno42docno42 Posts: 3,313member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by timgriff84 View Post


    Had also been around since the early 90s making it a bit odd for apple to now have a patent on it.



    Perhaps the phrase "mutli touch" wasn't obvious enough for you?



    Care to cite a single example of two fingers, styli or anything else working together to create a zoom effect before the iPhone?



    Sure, pan and zoom with a keyboard, mouse or some other combination of the two is old hat - but what the iPhone had - multi-touch - two or more fingers creating gestures like pinch to zoom was and now is unique. It's obvious now, but apparently it wasn't that obvious pre-iPhone or someone else would have got there first (or bought the company Apple did for the would-be wise a$$es out there)
  • Reply 11 of 67
    docno42docno42 Posts: 3,313member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rain View Post


    Steven Spielberg should sue Apple for patent rights.



    And they were tapping around on iPad looking things in STTNG too - you do realize the difference between movies/TV and real life, right?
  • Reply 12 of 67
    rainrain Posts: 538member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DocNo42 View Post


    Perhaps the phrase "mutli touch" wasn't obvious enough for you?



    Care to cite a single example of two fingers, styli or anything else working together to create a zoom effect before the iPhone?



    Sure, pan and zoom with a keyboard, mouse or some other combination of the two is old hat - but what the iPhone had - multi-touch - two or more fingers creating gestures like pinch to zoom was and now is unique. It's obvious now, but apparently it wasn't that obvious pre-iPhone or someone else would have got there first (or bought the company Apple did for the would-be wise a$$es out there)



    Seen it way before the iphone in movies. About as 'unique' as a dog with 4 legs.
  • Reply 13 of 67
    docno42docno42 Posts: 3,313member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iPad999 View Post


    just changing small details.



    Using fingers instead of styluses wasn't a "small detail". In fact, Apple took some pretty derisive criticism for not having a stylus.



    Of course, with the overwhelming success of the iPhone that criticism evaporated pretty quickly - how soon some forget



    Quote:

    Plus if more people can use a technology, it will only improve faster or other technologies come out, and benefit the buyers. IMO



    Really? If a company can't be rewarded for coming up with a new idea by having a set period of exclusivity, then what's the point of innovation when you know all your lazy competitors have to do is wait for you to think stuff up and then copy it.



    While not perfect, that is what our patent system does. And it, combined with other aspects of America's government, culture and environment must have worked since more technical innovations have been spawned by the US than any country before. I think we've lost quite a bit of our edge, but even so America is still a pretty fertile ground for innovation. Companies like Apple seem to have little problem turning entire industries on their ear. Multiple times in multiple industries, no less...
  • Reply 14 of 67
    docno42docno42 Posts: 3,313member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rain View Post


    Seen it way before the iphone in movies. About as 'unique' as a dog with 4 legs.



    Movies aren't prior art.



    But go ahead and run with that if you think you can make any headway in invalidating their patent with it...



    If nothing else it will be fun to watch....



    Heck, there were movies about going to the Moon decades before the US actually did it. Aw screw it, why am I even bothering to try to explain what should be obvious
  • Reply 15 of 67
    Apple engineers were researching and designing and patenting this iOS multi-touch UI stuff in 2006 and probably started well before that (FingerWorks 1998) . You have to wonder, what did they think of next that will be released soon in our life time?



    This work originated with FingerWorks, a company that started in 1998 and was bought by Apple in 2005.



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FingerWorks



    God bless Apple!



    They deserve their patents and every bit of success that comes with them.



    Time will tell.
  • Reply 16 of 67
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DocNo42 View Post


    Perhaps the phrase "mutli touch" wasn't obvious enough for you?



    Care to cite a single example of two fingers, styli or anything else working together to create a zoom effect before the iPhone?



    Sure, pan and zoom with a keyboard, mouse or some other combination of the two is old hat - but what the iPhone had - multi-touch - two or more fingers creating gestures like pinch to zoom was and now is unique. It's obvious now, but apparently it wasn't that obvious pre-iPhone or someone else would have got there first (or bought the company Apple did for the would-be wise a$$es out there)



    Jeff Han at TED Feb 2006.



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLnNG...ext=1&index=12



    Apple did not invent Multi-touch.
  • Reply 17 of 67
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DocNo42 View Post


    Care to cite a single example of two fingers, styli or anything else working together to create a zoom effect before the iPhone?



    Two words: Jeff Han

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89sz8ExZndc



    Notice his extensive use of the multi-touch pinch-to-zoom at 0:45.



    When was he demoing this?

    February 2006



    When was the iPhone released?

    January 2007



    Who is Jeff Han?

    Jefferson Y. Han is a research scientist at NYU who was cooking up some awesome multi-touch interface elements and screen designs around 2005 and 2006. I remember watching his videos at the time and being absolutely floored and crossing my fingers that technology with his designs would come out soon. All those over the top touch screens you see on CNN are his tech and purchased from his company Perceptive Pixel.



    What about the iPhone? Nope, Apple hasn't paid him a dime. Which I don't mind too much, I mean the pinch gesture, although clever, is fairly intuitive, even if Apple almost certainly did steal it (Jeff even uses the phrase "pinch-to-zoom" in some of his videos), and I don't get to play with those magic CNN walls so I am happy there is a consumer device with it.



    No, what really pisses me off is that Apple was granted this patent. Really? There is clear documented evidence of other people researching this tech before Apple. Granting this patent will stifle competition and reward a company for playing the litigation game, not innovating (not that Apple doesn't spend a lot of time innovating too). Frankly, our intellectual property system in this country is totally @&!#ed.
  • Reply 18 of 67
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by delventhalz View Post


    Two words: Jeff Han

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89sz8ExZndc



    Notice his extensive use of the multi-touch pinch-to-zoom at 0:45.



    When was he demoing this?

    February 2006



    When was the iPhone released?

    January 2007



    Who is Jeff Han?

    Jefferson Y. Han is a research scientist at NYU who was cooking up some awesome multi-touch interface elements and screen designs around 2005 and 2006. I remember watching his videos at the time and being absolutely floored and crossing my fingers that technology with his designs would come out soon. All those over the top touch screens you see on CNN are his tech and purchased from his company Perceptive Pixel.



    What about the iPhone? Nope, Apple hasn't paid him a dime. Which I don't mind too much, I mean the pinch gesture, although clever, is fairly intuitive, even if Apple almost certainly did steal it (Jeff even uses the phrase "pinch-to-zoom" in some of his videos), and I don't get to play with those magic CNN walls so I am happy there is a consumer device with it.



    No, what really pisses me off is that Apple was granted this patent. Really? There is clear documented evidence of other people researching this tech before Apple. Granting this patent will stifle competition and reward a company for playing the litigation game, not innovating (not that Apple doesn't spend a lot of time innovating too). Frankly, our intellectual property system in this country is totally @&!#ed.





    The stuff that that Jeff Han is talking about was originated by FingerWorks, a company that started in 1998 and was bought by Apple in 2005.



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FingerWorks



    Yes, Apple deserves their multi-touch patent and every bit of success that comes with it. Deal with it!



    Time will tell.
  • Reply 19 of 67
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleSauce007 View Post


    The stuff that that Jeff Han is talking about was originated by FingerWorks, a company that started in 1998 and was bought by Apple in 2005.



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FingerWorks



    Yes, Apple deserves their multi-touch patent and every bit of success that comes with it. Deal with it!



    Time will tell.



    In 1983, Bell Labs at Murray Hill published a comprehensive discussion of touch-screen based interfaces. In 1984, Bell Labs engineered a touch screen that could change images with more than one hand. In 1985, the University of Toronto group including Bill Buxton developed a multi-touch tablet that used capacitance rather than bulky camera-based optical sensing systems.



    A breakthrough occurred in 1991, when Pierre Wellner published a paper on his multi-touch “Digital Desk”, which supported multi-finger and pinching motions



    edit:



    1985



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Arrus9CxUiA
  • Reply 20 of 67
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Lynn616 View Post


    In 1983, Bell Labs at Murray Hill published a comprehensive discussion of touch-screen based interfaces. In 1984, Bell Labs engineered a touch screen that could change images with more than one hand. In 1985, the University of Toronto group including Bill Buxton developed a multi-touch tablet that used capacitance rather than bulky camera-based optical sensing systems.



    A breakthrough occurred in 1991, when Pierre Wellner published a paper on his multi-touch “Digital Desk”, which supported multi-finger and pinching motions





    Sure, sure, and my great great great grand father used a tablet in 600 BC just like Moses used a tablet for the 10 commandments of God. That has nothing to do with Apple's Multi-Touch Patents.



    Apple got their patents after many years of consideration. Apple deserve them and will use them well as the patents will serve Apple well.



    Time will tell.
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