A new patent application published yesterday by the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) outlines in excruciating detail new multitouch gestures based on physical metaphors letting users share documents between devices by the means of flicking objects outside the screen boundaries, “pouring” content from one device into another (depicted in the above illustration) and more. The system taps your device’s many sensors, namely accelerometer, magnetometer and gyroscope, in order to determine its physical position relative to other devices in the vicinity. Combined with visual clues such as repelling forces, the user interface would communicate to the user when and how objects between devices can be exchanged. There’s a lot to be excited about this invention.

Apple provides limited file sharing options that require a computer, such as iTunes syncing, iTunes File Sharing and running a WebDAV server on the device to wirelessly share app documents through a desktop browser. In addition, come this Fall the iPhone maker will roll out the free iCloud online service and new iOS APIs so third-parties could build apps that can share private documents across devices via the user’s iCloud storage. Also, the new AirDrop feature in Lion could eventually arrive to iOS to enable drag-and-drop file sharing between Macs and iOS gadgets.

However, none of those methods provides an easy way to directly exchange files between nearby devices and the lack of full file system access for end-users doesn’t help either. While Apple is certainly not going to sacrifice ease of use by exposing file system intricacies to the user, the proposed file sharing metaphors based on new multitouch gestures should solve the file sharing issue once and for all. Check this out….

Patently Apple explains that one embodiment outlines an interesting scenario which has one holding a smartphone over a tablet, which initiates a file transfer session depicted by document icons pouring from one device to the other. Another one describes flicking document icons outside the screen boundaries, with the angle of the flicking determining a target device (if more than one are nearby). The user interface would provide clues ranging from audible feedback, such as “the sound of liquid pouring, a tablet fizzing, gas through a valve, a sci-fi teleporter, or other sound that audibly represent the transfer of a material from one point to another” to animations involving “gravity, friction or drag, momentums, torques, accelerations, centripetal forces or any other force found in a real-world physical environment”, Apple wrote in the document.

The filing credits Apple engineers Todd Benjamin, Brett Bilbrey, Nicholas King. To learn more about this patent application, type in ID number 20110163944 into the USPTO search engine.

In another patent application number 20110164029 (also credited to Todd Benjamin and Nicholas King) the company explores new three-dimensional gestures (seen in the below illustration) that might apply to professional content creation software, such as CAD applications, 3D modelling, image editing programs, to name a few. If anything, the aforementioned 3D gestures could be a fit for an alleged iPhone HD said to run pro-grade apps such as Aperture and Final Cut Pro. 

According to Patently Apple, future iOS device displays will enable users to create 3D objects and worlds by using simple 3D gesturing. “The new 3D gesturing will control color and textures while allowing users to uniquely rotate objects to gain different perspectives of their designs. This is wild stuff that is bound to give Apple’s competitors another huge headache,” the publication writes. Both patent applications were filed around the first quarter of 2010, when the original iPad was introduced.

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