Apple filing spills details of advanced multi-touch pads for Macs

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
A new and ambitious patent filing from Apple hints that the Mac maker is working to extend an advanced version of its multi-touch technology to future notebook trackpads that would include gesture concepts well beyond what is presently available on its handheld and MacBook Air products.



The January 2007 filing, dug up overnight by MacRumors, is titled "Gesturing with a multipoint sensing device" and lists among its inventors Wayne Westerman of Fingerworks, a company absorbed by Apple several years ago as part of its quest to deliver iPhone and a new generation of input devices.



Of particular interest are several drawings and descriptions of a new Mac OS X "Gesture Control Panel" nestled deep within the 72-page filing. The panel is split three-way, offering a distinct set of customizable options for "Standard," "Basic," and "Advanced" multi-touch operations.



Listed as part of the "Advanced" panel are several pre-defined multi-touch gesture sets for operations not yet supported by Apple's iPhone, iPod touch, or MacBook Air offerings. Among them are gestures for file operations, editing operations, and Web browser operations (detailed with drawings and descriptions below).



For example, Apple explains that by using a combination of the thumb and two other fingers, users of the advanced multi-touch trackpad technology would be able to invoke commands for copy, paste, cut, redo, and select all. Similarly, by using the thumb and just one other finger, users would be able to create new files or open, save and close existing ones.



Though not illustrated in the included drawings, Apple in the filing also discusses several potential uses for the pinky finger as part of its Mac-based multi-touch technology because it produces a long (highly eccentric) horizontal contact patch distinct from all other contacts with the possible exception of a flattened thumb.







"Side pinky swipe may be useful for simple control gestures like volume up/down, sleep, screen saver, etc. The side pinky swipe has the simplicity of single finger touch while being recognizably distinct from normal 1 fingertip pointing/clicking," the company explained. "It is also very ergonomic because while touching with side of pinky, the thumb is pointing straight up into the air. This is the most neutral comfortable of all wrist positions."



Introduced last month at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco, the MacBook Air stands as the first Mac to support "Basic" multi-touch gestures. AppleInsider later revealed that Apple's other notebooks -- the MacBook and MacBook Pro -- would soon join the Air in supporting the technology, beginning with a refresh to the MacBook Pro line due later this month.



It's presently unclear when Apple will be ready to deploy its software for "Advanced" gestures, but those Mac systems supporting the Basic gestures include a Broadcom multi-touch chip. The presence of that chip should allow owners to take full advantage of the Advanced gestures through a software upgrade. Current MacBook and MacBook Pro owners, however, are unlikely gain access to the technology due to the lack of supporting hardware.



Joining Westerman in the credits to the aforementioned patent filing are Apple software and interface engineers Steven Hotelling, Myra Haggerty, Bas Ording, Nima Parivar, and Duncan Robert Kerr.







Expose & Dashboard

Swiping 4 fingers up, down, left or right to:

Expose allExpose DesktopTrigger DashboardExpose applications





Primary Click & Drag

Swiping 3 fingers up, down, left, right or diagonally to:

Drag upDrag rightDrag downDrag leftDrag diagonally





File Operations

Using movement of the thumb and 1 other finger to:

OpenCloseNewSave





Editing Operations

Using movement of the thumb and 2 other fingers to:

CancelUndoPasteTabSelect allRedoCutBack tabCopy





Web Browser Operations

StopSpotlightForwardBookmarkRefreshFindBackHome Command
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 29
    It seems like I may need to grow a third hand to use it...
  • Reply 2 of 29
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by axc51 View Post


    It seems like I may need to grow a third hand to use it...



    You'll be able to buy that as an optional extra for just $9999
  • Reply 3 of 29
    I'd be happy with a double-sized Touch with a USB port and 64gb of storage.
  • Reply 4 of 29
    Wow. That's pretty intense. The gestures look quite complex, and seem to be dynamic based on which app you're using. That's gonna be quite a learning curve! Bring it on!



    Jimzip
  • Reply 5 of 29
    If only I hadn't played with firecrackers as a kid, I wouldn't keep changing the volume when I click on a different file!
  • Reply 6 of 29
    Looks destined for obscurity, same as Palm's "Graffiti" handwriting recognition software.



    This will not catch on. Voice recognition has a better chance than this.
  • Reply 7 of 29
    man, just because they filed this doesn't necessarily mean that they're gonna use it. plus, it was registered over a year ago. i'm sure it has been refined somewhat since then.
  • Reply 8 of 29
    foo2foo2 Posts: 1,077member
    Filed on January 31, 2007, and published less than 13 months later without a patent being awarded yet, Apple apparently wanted this technology visible to the public before the end of the standard 18-month quiet period the US PTO provides. Perhaps we'll see products based on it very soon.
  • Reply 9 of 29
    Hard to believe we used to have just one mouse button...
  • Reply 10 of 29
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Trisagion View Post


    Hard to believe we used to have just one mouse button...



    Hard to believe we still do.



    (Not counting the mighty mouse... all our laptops still only have one button)
  • Reply 11 of 29
    i still use the single click mouse.. with the mighty mouse i always accidentally right click or make expose come up, so i just turn it off. really pointless to use mighty mouse for me..



    i always have my left hand on the keyboard for shortcuts, so moving over to control to *right click* is a simple task.. plus if you've ever used photoshop's polygonal line selection tool and gotten half way around an object and then accidentally clicked off of it, that's frustrating.
  • Reply 12 of 29
    didn't see this one coming.



    hahaha.
  • Reply 13 of 29
    Gesturing is completely different with Apple products and operating systems than with Microsoft based products. Having said that, Microsoft is demonstrating, on a much larger scale, their 'Microsoft Surface' technology.



    First set of customers are casino groups and those who make products for the gaming/casino industry.



    http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,2138251,00.asp



    I much prefer using a mouse, but since I saw, and have now tried out basic 'gesturing' with the MacBook Air, I'm now going to wait for the imminent release of refreshed MacBook Pros. To me it could eliminate the use of a mouse altogether.



    YipYipYipee
  • Reply 14 of 29
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    The fools over in the Engadget comments think context menus are better than gestures, therefore we don't need gestures. Good one guys.



    Try zooming in, or going to the next photo with a context menu. The usual predictable, response from nerds who can't bear change. These are the same people who hate on the iPhone, and the PS3 for no good reasons.



    Keep in mind though, theses are trackpad gestures, the Mac touch tablet will be a lot easier - i.e. you'll flick to the next photo with one finger, if you want [you won't need to use three].
  • Reply 15 of 29
    here is my multi million dollar concept:





    -time to put the apple mouse as a full surface touch pad!
  • Reply 16 of 29
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post


    Looks destined for obscurity, same as Palm's "Graffiti" handwriting recognition software.



    This will not catch on..



    I love 2 finger scrolling on my MBP - it's VERY natural, quick and easy.



    If Apple does things gradually it has a chance. eg:

    1) 3 finger movements. If I read correctly, if we put 3 fingers on the touch pad and move around it moves the whole current window around the screen.

    2) cut/copy/paste. People want it on the iPhone, it has to be done somehow.

    Slowly added capabilities (and geniuses to help explain them) can work.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by BMWintoxication View Post


    -time to put the apple mouse as a full surface touch pad!



    Yeah - like the ultra-thin bluetooth keyboard, with an extended front touch pad.
  • Reply 17 of 29
    citycity Posts: 522member
    Does one need to know how to play the piano to use this?
  • Reply 18 of 29
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post


    The fools over in the Engadget comments think context menus are better than gestures, therefore we don't need gestures. Good one guys.



    Try zooming in, or going to the next photo with a context menu. The usual predictable, response from nerds who can't bear change. These are the same people who hate on the iPhone, and the PS3 for no good reasons.



    Keep in mind though, theses are trackpad gestures, the Mac touch tablet will be a lot easier - i.e. you'll flick to the next photo with one finger, if you want [you won't need to use three].



    So Ireland, let me ask you something. With this news, am I alone in thinking it will still be a while before Apple releases a Mac tablet? It seems that if they have found this method of intergrating multitouch into their Macs, a tablet with multitouch would seem...well, really not needed.



    I do think this is a good indication that we will see one someday, but there will have to be something else in addition to multitouch to make it stand out both amongst the tablet market as well amongst Apple products.
  • Reply 19 of 29
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Rogzilla View Post


    So Ireland, let me ask you something. With this news, am I alone in thinking it will still be a while before Apple releases a Mac tablet? It seems that if they have found this method of intergrating multitouch into their Macs, a tablet with multitouch would seem...well, really not needed.



    I wouldn't say your alone in thinking that, but I'm still saying Macworld 2009. When Apple does announce this tablet they will continue to sell laptops [I hate calling them notebooks]. So they can afford to continually invest in research to make its existing laptops better than they are.



    This tablet I envision will about a specific size at first [around 11"]. A lot of people will still want 15" and 17", so they won't be buying this product, or maybe they might buy both. The 11" tablet would be a Mac and will run Mac OS X, and will in my opinion go hand in hand with a desktop computer. I'd say there's a possibility this tablet will be Mac only, as in only sync with Macs, but that remains to be seen.



    Apple isn't finished developing their Mac touch 1.0 yet, and technology is also playing catch up.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Rogzilla View Post


    I do think this is a good indication that we will see one someday, but there will have to be something else in addition to multitouch to make it stand out both amongst the tablet market as well amongst Apple products.



    Do you own an iPhone?



    The difference between performing MT gestures on a trackpad and directly manipuling the software on screen is "huge" to me, that's well enough different. Not to mention the size this tablet is going to be. And they need not worry, but the time the tablet arrives the Air will be much faster etc. So they will be sufficiently different.
  • Reply 20 of 29
    kolchakkolchak Posts: 1,398member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by axc51 View Post


    It seems like I may need to grow a third hand to use it...



    It's not that hard. I don't have the patience to read the whole article, but it doesn't look much different from the gesture set used in FingerWorks products, which was the technology Apple bought. Some of the gestures are different, but I'm sure I'll adapt quickly enough. I hope this means an Apple MultiTouch pad is on the way and I won't have to worry about my FingerWorks iGesture dying with no replacement in sight. Heck, I hope Apple makes it incompatible with Windows (which seems possible, since Windows doesn't support Exposé). That way, I can get some big bucks out of Windows users who would still be interested in buying my iGesture. I could buy the new Apple pad and actually come out ahead.
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