Apple’s latest patent application has already set tongues wagging and tweets ablaze, as it describes a way to control the tablet with two hands by touch, think Minority Report.
Apple’s new patent describes a sophisticated multitouch input method, in which you use all ten fingers, complex movements and other gestures. You can even type. The patent describes sensors which will work to identify exactly what your gestures mean, will be able to move the cursor and enable various activities, all through touch.
Or, as the patent puts it: “Apparatus and methods are disclosed for simultaneously tracking multiple finger and palm contacts as hands approach, touch, and slide across a proximity-sensing, multi-touch surface. Identification and classification of intuitive hand configurations and motions enables unprecedented integration of typing, resting, pointing, scrolling, 3D manipulation, and handwriting into a versatile, ergonomic computer input device.”
The patent application basically describes the creation of an all-new user interface, designed to replace the current mouse and keyboard UI. It also notes the new interface has advantages against voice control because it allows people to more easily manipulate graphic objects and so forth.
“A generic manual input device which combines the typing, pointing, scrolling, and handwriting capabilities of the standard input device collection must have ergonomic, economic, and productivity advantages which outweigh the unavoidable sacrifices of abandoning device specialization,” the patent also notes.
Good news too for RSI sufferers: “Epidemiological studies suggest that repetition and force multiply in causing repetitive strain injuries. Awkward postures, device activation force, wasted motion, and repetition should be minimized to improve ergonomics. Furthermore, the workload should be spread evenly over all available muscle groups to avoid repetitive strain.”
There’s lots more in the patent filing, which is available here. We think reading the original patent is probably going to be better than any over-simplification we may provide.
With tablet rumours growing apace, it is interesting to reflect on this statement made by Gizmodo, citing a source the publication believes to have seen a prototype of the Apple device: “There was talk of making the device act as a secondary screen/touchpad for iMacs and MacBooks.”
So the Apple tablet could also replace the interface you currently use on your current Macs. And is now widely expected to ship in early 2010…