Feeds

Apple seeks to patent movement, vibration and pleasure

Shape-shifting scrolling

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Apple is investigating new user-interface ideas, including motion-based function selection and multi-layered interface elements that change their appearance during use.

Two patents published Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark office give a glimpse into some of the interface thinking going on in Cupertino - and possibly hint at capabilities of future iPhones and the look-and-feel of upcoming versions of Mac OS X.

Both of the applications were originally filed in October 2007, but are only now being made public. The first, "Movement-based interfaces for personal media device," describes how a handheld's functions could be controlled by motion sensing performed by an internal "position, orientation, or movement (POM) sensor."

The second, "Varying user interface element based on movement," describes how a layered graphical-interface element such as a scroll bar could change its appearance in response to a user moving it.

The first of the two filings details a way to control a handheld device such as an iPhone or iPod without needing to look at its display.

One example given is that of a runner wanting to change a tune on her iPod without having to take her eyes off her path and run into a tree. Instead of risking breaking her nose, she could merely grasp her iPod - which would tell it to awaken its POM and ready it for a command - then move it in a predetermined pattern that would be translated into the "skip to next song" request.

Apple motion-sensor patent illustration

Rotate your iPhone to scroll through lists

Movement-based commands could be used to control a variety of functions, including launching or closing apps, selecting or de-selecting features, changing settings, making or ending phone calls, or - in a hint of future iPhone features - "initiating or ending an audio or video recording session."

As usual in an Apple patent filing, a wide net is cast when it comes to defining components. The aforementioned POM, for example, "may include, without limitation, an accelerometer, a gyroscope, a light sensor, an infrared (IR) sensor, proximity sensor, capacitive proximity sensor, acoustic sensor, sonic or sonar sensor, radar sensor, image sensor, video sensor, global positional system (GPS) detector, RF detector, RF or acoustic doppler detector, video sensor, compass, magnetometer, or other like environment sensor".

That about wraps it up, now, doesn't it?

In addition to POM-based input, the filing also describes how feedback could be provided to the user through vibration patterns, which would be useful when a command doesn't trigger audible changes such as a skipping from one tune to another.

The second of the two filings centers on what it refers to as providing a "more aesthetically pleasing" GUI.

That pleasure is to be induced by a set of graphics layers that define a GUI element's background color, shape, alpha-channel transparency, and patterns that could all change in response to a user's movement of the element.

For example, a scroll bar could change its appearance while being moved in such as way as to indicate the direction in which it is being moved. Although the filing focuses to a large degree on scroll bars, it also discusses windows, buttons, scroll bars, icons, sliders, tabs, toolbars, "and so on."

In addition to user input, the filing also describes how the same multi-layered system could be used to modify GUI elements based on the time of day, how long the computer has been in use or idle, or in response to any other condition.

Again, in true Apple-patent tradition, the GUI filing doesn't limit itelf to personal-computer displays, but also reaches out to "servers, electronics, media players, game devices, mobile phones, smart phones, email devices, personal digital assistants (PDAs), embedded devices, televisions, other consumer electronic devices, set top boxes, etc."

Although with "electronics" in that list, it's a bit difficult to understand what "etc." might include. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Kaspersky backpedals on 'done nothing wrong, nothing to fear' blather
Founder (and internet passport fan) now says privacy is precious
TROLL SLAYER Google grabs $1.3 MEEELLION in patent counter-suit
Chocolate Factory hits back at firm for suing customers
Mozilla's 'Tiles' ads debut in new Firefox nightlies
You can try turning them off and on again
Sit tight, fanbois. Apple's '$400' wearable release slips into early 2015
Sources: time to put in plenty of clock-watching for' iWatch
Facebook to let stalkers unearth buried posts with mobe search
Prepare to HAUNT your pal's back catalogue
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?