A number of patents have surfaced over the last two years concerning light pens and apps moving to touch screens. While one of the first detailed patents surfaced in 2009 in relation to business forms, we've since seen some serious advances in Apple's pursuit of the Smart-Pen including a huge leap in the field of graphics pens. It's the latter that's interesting in light of Apple's latest patent revelation that Aperture is coming to touch displays including handhelds like the iPad. It may even come to future desktops and laptops that offer touch displays, according to Apple. An advanced graphics pen would be great for fast photo touch-ups and appreciated by photographers using Aperture on-the-go. Who knows, maybe Apple is even gearing this up for future hybrid systems. Time will tell.
Aperture Coming to Touch Screen Devices
Apple's patent background discusses graphical user interfaces (GUI) that provide users of computers and other electronic devices with a collection of visible tools with which a user could interact (e.g., via a keyboard, mouse, touch screen, light pen) to perform computer tasks. GUIs could be designed for specific purposes, such as a word processor, in which the GUI can present a paper-like interface and collections of tools for performing tasks such as altering the font or color of a selected passage of text.
Collections of related GUI tools can be grouped together as toolbars. These tool bars could be presented as bands of graphical icons that are positioned along a side of the GUI (e.g., docked at an edge of the interface), or could "float" at an arbitrary position within the GUI. Some implementations allow for toolbars to be moved between "docked" and "floating" configurations to give the user some control over the location of various groupings of GUI tools.
In general, Apple's patent could be implemented to include methods, systems, and/or a computer-readable medium encoded with a computer program for managing elements in a user interface for a software application executing on a computer system. Implementations may include one or more of the following features.
Managing user interface elements may be accomplished by displaying a software application user interface having multiple separate elements including at least a first element and a second element, receiving user input requesting relocation of the first element from a first location in the user interface to a second location in the user interface, and modifying the displayed user interface by moving the first element to the second location and selectively altering an appearance of the second element to accommodate display of the first element at the second location in the user interface.
The first element may include a dockable Heads-Up Display (HUD) that, for example, displays meta-data for an item of media content such as a digital still image or digital video. The second element may include at least one of a media display element and a media editing element. Altering an appearance of the second element may include one or both of resizing and relocating the second element sufficiently such that no overlap occurs between the altered second element and the first element at the second location.
Apple's patent FIG 1 points to their Aperture application working on Touch Screens as per FIG. 6. It should be noted that Apple's patent point number 038 points to the invention relating to laptops, desktops and digital assistants (PDAs) which is referencing the iPod Touch. The iPad didn't exist at the time of their patent filing and Apple's engineers weren't about to let that cat out of the bag before the big surprise. The bottom line is that the invention could apply to the iPad and/or future tablet form factors. However, the Hybrid scenario is a superior fit and why our byline didn't claim iPad.
Apple credits Nikhil Bhatt, Mark Kawano and Craig Milito as the inventors of patent application 20110119609, originally filed in Q4 2009. Also see our Smart Pen Archives.
Other Aperture related patent applications that surfaced today include the following: Global View of Digital Assets (patent application 20110119634), Module-Based Process for Importing Media Files (patent application 20110119583) and Dichroic Aperture for Electronic Imaging Device (patent application 20110115964) which illustrates a standalone Apple camera in Patent FIG. 5 as shown below.
With Apple gaining so much experience with cameras on their iOS devices these days they just might decide to move up the food chain. Although it's an unlikely move, I can't fight the patent graphic which is only one of many in this latest patent. Time will tell.
Other Noteworthy Patent Applications Published Today
If you're a security buff, then you should know that a new patent was published this morning titled "System and Method for Data Obfuscation based on Discrete Logarithm Properties" under application 20110116624. Here's a temp link to that patent which should be valid for about 48 hours.
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