Apple patents 'no look' multitouch user interface for portable devices

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Apple on Tuesday was granted a patent for a device control mode in which a user can interact with a multitouch display even when no content is being shown on screen, thereby saving battery life when a GUI is not needed.

Volume Control
Source: USPTO


Granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple's U.S. Patent No. 8,407,623 for "Playback control using a touch interface," describes a method of input that registers touch gestures when no content is displayed on the multitouch screen. That is to say, the multitouch panel is activated, but nothing is being displayed on screen.

As noted in the patent language, normal inputs like physical buttons can increase the size of a portable device or require moving parts that may be undesirable. According to the invention, these types of input controls may also require that a user look down at the device to change song tracks, adjust volume or perform other media playback actions. As seen by the example sixth-generation iPod nano, this can be troublesome when using the device during a workout when the display may be facing away from a user.

While the regular inputs are still available for users, such as push-button play and stop or rocker volume controls, the patent also allows for control the unit without having to look at it.

Control
Table of touch input and device operation associations.


From the patent summary:
To allow a user to control media playback using a touch sensing device without requiring the selection of displayed options, the electronic device can include a mode or configuration for which the touch sensing device can sense touch events, but not display any content on a display. For example, an electronic device with a touch screen can have a mode in which no content is displayed on the touch screen (e.g., the touch screen remains dark), but the touch screen is operative to detect touch events of the user.
Apple's system can support any combination of touch events, which are then associated with certain playback actions. Specifically, the method can associate tap events that mimic button presses from a remote control. For example, the device can associate a single tap with the same operations a single button press of an inline remote triggers. Double taps and press-and-hold gestures are also supported, as is the case when skipping tracks or fast-forwarding through songs.

In another embodiment, the method can provide gesture inputs that don't correspond with button press events. In these examples, the user provides a circular touch motion to control the volume, much like legacy click-wheel iPods.

While the above gestures can be performed on a blank screen, or one that is not displaying a graphical user interface, the patent also allows for playback overlays if necessary. These particular embodiments function like usual iPod UIs in that a graphical asset is displayed for an operation, for example a volume bar will pop up when a volume adjustment gesture is recognized.

Volume Control
Volume overlay.


Without displaying on-screen graphics, the patent saves energy and allows for a more robust interactive experience that doesn't require a user to constantly look down at their device.

Apple's '623 patent was first filed for in 2009 and credits Duncan Kerr and Nick King as its inventors.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    So it's an iPod Watch. I hope it comes with wireless earphones.
  • Reply 2 of 23
    cash907cash907 Posts: 893member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by tomnryan View Post



    So it's an iPod Watch. I hope it comes with wireless earphones.


     






    Amen. Still pissed that Apple finally added the only thing lacking from the previous gen iPod Nano, but ruined the form factor with that useless widescreen display along with it. Just give me the old model with bluetooth, and I'll buy two of them for myself and my wife.


    Maybe more as Christmas gifts.

  • Reply 3 of 23
    19831983 Posts: 1,158member


    70s and 80s synth superstar Jean-Michel Jarre's name on the illustration aye...used to listen to his music a lot up until the early 90s. The patent here is a good idea.

  • Reply 4 of 23

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Cash907 View Post


     






    Amen. Still pissed that Apple finally added the only thing lacking from the previous gen iPod Nano, but ruined the form factor with that useless widescreen display along with it. Just give me the old model with bluetooth, and I'll buy two of them for myself and my wife.


    Maybe more as Christmas gifts.



     


    They probably realized that the old-nano form factor can be a watch product so they killed it in advance by replacing with a useless widescreen display.

  • Reply 5 of 23
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    I see two uses for this. The aforementioned iWatch but necessarily without the display on, just no a display that is displaying virtual buttons on screen to control an event. For instance, you see a clock face but can still touch parts of the display to it to play songs, accept calls, activate Siri, etc.

    The other use I see is for the blind. It seemed strange at first but iOS is great for the visually impaired. Many don't need any power to the display or backlight (unless they are showing someone else what they are "looking" at). This would be a huge savings in battery life if only the touch panel were to be active.
  • Reply 6 of 23
    chandra69chandra69 Posts: 638member
    That's a small but great innovation! Nice implementation indeed.
    It can be applied on all touch devices, iWatch, iPod or whatever.
  • Reply 7 of 23
    rabbit_coachrabbit_coach Posts: 1,114member


    Great little invention. I always find it irritating to have to switch on my iPod/Pad/Phone just to skip a song or to change the volume. I hope this integrates as soon as possible. Maybe iOS7 - Yes?

  • Reply 8 of 23
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member


    Hmm...could be for the "watch" project.  One of the listed inventors, Duncan Kerr works for Jony Ive.

  • Reply 9 of 23
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,205member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rabbit_Coach View Post


    Great little invention. I always find it irritating to have to switch on my iPod/Pad/Phone just to skip a song or to change the volume. I hope this integrates as soon as possible. Maybe iOS7 - Yes?



     


    Really? Cause I just double click the home button and the controls appear in my lock screen. Or a quick flick in the multitask bar and there they are. I only have to actually go into the app if I want to pick the song etc.

  • Reply 10 of 23


    So what are we to call a device (or device operating mode) using these new features?


     


    Certainly not iWatch.


     


    iWait?


     


    iRespond?


     


    Interesting, that we could have a small wrist device with or without a display -- but a multitouch sensor.  In addition to the patent examples, two-finger taps and gestures could be used to provide double the unique commands.  Siri could be used to both recognize requests and provide responses.


     


    Mmmm...

  • Reply 11 of 23
    v5vv5v Posts: 1,357member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by charlituna View Post


    Really? Cause I just double click the home button and the controls appear in my lock screen. Or a quick flick in the multitask bar and there they are. I only have to actually go into the app if I want to pick the song etc.



     


    Now I'm wondering how many other useful features iOS offers that I've not yet discovered. I didn't know about either of those control options. Thanks for pointing them out!


     


    I still think the blank screen touch idea is cool. Hopefully when implemented there will be a quick, easy way to activate/deactivate it without having to look.

  • Reply 12 of 23
    rabbit_coachrabbit_coach Posts: 1,114member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by charlituna View Post


     


    Really? Cause I just double click the home button and the controls appear in my lock screen. Or a quick flick in the multitask bar and there they are. I only have to actually go into the app if I want to pick the song etc.



    Hmm... guess I should consult "Tipps & Tricks in iOS" a bit more. image

  • Reply 13 of 23
    leesmithleesmith Posts: 119member
    Perhaps it's not an iWatch at all. Maybe it's just the New iPod?
  • Reply 14 of 23
    ankleskaterankleskater Posts: 1,287member
    Great little invention. I always find it irritating to have to switch on my iPod/Pad/Phone just to skip a song or to change the volume. I hope this integrates as soon as possible. Maybe iOS7 - Yes?
    Imagine tapping on your trousers pocket to fast forward to the next song.
  • Reply 15 of 23

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ankleskater View Post




    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rabbit_Coach View Post



    Great little invention. I always find it irritating to have to switch on my iPod/Pad/Phone just to skip a song or to change the volume. I hope this integrates as soon as possible. Maybe iOS7 - Yes?


    Imagine tapping on your trousers pocket to fast forward to the next song.



     


     


    There must be a "popcorn surprise" in there somewhere...


     


    I couldn't resist image

  • Reply 16 of 23

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by charlituna View Post


     


    Really? Cause I just double click the home button and the controls appear in my lock screen. Or a quick flick in the multitask bar and there they are. I only have to actually go into the app if I want to pick the song etc.



    Amazing... by trying to question what Rabbit_Coach was saying, as though he is doing it wrong, you basically wrote a description stating that you do EXACTLY what he is doing!!! Wonderous !


     


    Anyway, on the article, what a great idea. Stunned that its not been done yet, it so simple and obvious (once you are told it) Very Apple. Didnt know i wanted it until they showed it to me. The screen is the biggest draw of power on pretty any mobile device, so this is big. 

  • Reply 17 of 23
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member


    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    Without displaying on-screen graphics, the patent saves energy and allows for a more robust interactive experience that doesn't require a user to constantly look down at their device.


     


    Could be the next stage of Eyes Free evolution.


    Simple pushbutton on steering wheel now.


    Multitouch panel in the near future?

  • Reply 18 of 23
    teeeeteeee Posts: 2member
    Those are the same button combinations used on the iphone headphones... double tap hold, triple tap hold etc.
  • Reply 19 of 23
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member


    This would solve at least some of the drawbacks of using an iPhone as a remote for Apple TV.

  • Reply 20 of 23
    Well this would help in a buttonless iPhone.
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