On August 27, 2009, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application of Apple's which generally relates to multi-touch gestures in general, and more specifically to simulating multi-touch gestures utilizing a personal computer or workstation mouse. In light of the upcoming Microsoft Zune HD with touch capabilities matched up with personal computers with touch capabilities, such as the HP TouchSmart, today's patent seems a little behind the curve. This particular patent is primarily aimed at iPhone and iPod touch developers needing to develop touch software on a personal computer that doesn't have a touch screen - like today's iMac. Apple proposes providing developers with emulation software that would simulate iPhone or iPod touch gestures using their mouse. If anything, the patent would explain why Apple brought advanced gesturing to the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air and even suggest that these trackpads will get more sophisticated over time to support Apple's simulated-iPhone developer software.
The Simulation Window
Apple's patent FIG. 1 (click to enlarge) is a diagram of an exemplary device (110) such as an iPhone, which could receive multi-touch gesture inputs and a device (100) that can be used for developing software for the device according to embodiments of the invention. Device 110 can be a handheld device, a notebook computer or the like. In some embodiments, device 110 can include a combination of a display and a multi touch sensor panel 111. However, in other embodiments, device 110 can include a multi-touch sensor panel without a display, such as a trackpad. In some of the latter embodiments, device 110 can also include a separate display. For example, device 110 can be a notebook computer which includes a multi-touch capable trackpad and a monitor (but not a touch display).
Apple's FIG. 4A illustrates what the simulated multi-touch panel on the developers PC would look like. Notice circle 408 on the display: it simulates a finger touch on a device like the iPhone, generated by the cursor or mouse. The device outline appears on the personal computer display to appear like an iPhone and restricts the simulated software to work in just that area of the screen.
Unique Marketing Experience
According to the patent, Apple is considering one non-developer application that would use this simulation software on a PC for marketing purposes. The patents states that "an embodiment of the invention can be used to provide a demonstration of the operation of a multi-touch enabled device so that a user can decide whether to purchase that device." That could be useful if Apple introduces a larger tablet format that introduces advanced gaming, ebook or DJ capabilities which could be simulated on a Windows PC to give the user temptation to try out the software. On that single count, the proposed software has some potential.
Although the patent has its pluses and unique properties, the vast majority of consumers would simply prefer to have a touch based iMac. Like all patents, Apple states that the scope of the patent goes beyond that which is initially proposed. This translates to meaning that the proposed simulation software should be able to work on touch-screen PCs sometime in the future … maybe.
Apple credits George Dicker, Marcel Van Os, Richard Williamson and Chris Blumenberg for patent application 20090213083 originally filed in February 2008.
Other Noteworthy Patent Applications Published Today
Personal items Network, and Associated Methods: This is only a continuation patent that was originally published by the USPTO on June 23, 2009. It was covered in depth in our report titled Apple TV to Take Sporting Events to a Whole New Level. It you missed reading the original report - then take a moment to review it again: it's an excellent read. Today's non-event continuation patent is number 20090212941 which could be entered into the search engine below for further details.
Image Scaling Arrangement: Methods and system for transferring images between devices is disclosed. For example, differently scaled images by a host device may automatically and/or selectively be transferred to a media player for display. In turn, appropriately scaled images may be transferred automatically and/or selectively to another display device for example a TV, camera or printer. The selectivity may occur either at the host level or at the player level. This is yet another non-event continuation patent dating back to 2006 and was covered in this report that I filed with Macsimum News – even though they've inappropriately removed my name from the original report (naughty, naughty – ha!). Feed today's continuation patent number 20090216814 into the search engine below for further details.
Charge Recycling for Multi-touch Controllers: A concern with touch devices is the amount of power they consume when scanning the touch sensor panel. The high power consumption problem can be particularly important for hand-held or battery powered devices, as part of the power consumed by device can be due to repeated charging of the stray capacitances of the drive electrodes in the multi-touch panel. Apple's patent pending solution relates to touch sensor panels that utilize multiple stimulation frequencies and phases to detect and localize touch events, and more particularly, to the recycling of charge that would otherwise be lost during the discharging of stimulated drive lines. Feed patent number 20090212642 in the search engine below for more details.
NOTICE: Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of patents with associated graphic(s) for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application and/or grant is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application and/or grant should be read in its entirety for further details. For additional information on today's patent(s), simply feed the individual patent number(s) noted above into this search engine.