The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 40 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we focus entirely on a radical new multidimensional file system for Macs and a gaming console. Our report is a brief overview, as this system is extraordinarily detailed and must be read to really rap your head around this new system that could replace Apple's current Finder.
Apple Granted Patent for Graphical Multidimensional File Management System and Method
Technically, Apple has been granted a patent today for their invention relating to computer systems and more specifically to user interfaces for computer systems that facilitates information localization and organization.
The systems well known in the art are designed so that the user has to adapt to the filing systems rather than the other way around. Furthermore, the filing process will generally lead to some extent, to the loss of the flow of information, as portions of information are separated during the filing process. Creating multiple links is usually tedious, complicated, requires self-discipline and is very costly in terms of memory space.
Despite the popularity of the Mac's Finder, the system provides tools that manage efficiently only small quantities of information at a time. The system remains restrained to filing by file names using the "save as" function in most applications. With this kind of classification a user can only have a "local" view on what is stored in the computer system; a problem typically occurs when the information quantity is too large and diversified. The problem is exacerbated if links between the different information are provided between the information locally stored in various folders.
Apple's radical invention provides a method for classifying documents to allow a multi-dimensional graphical representation, the method comprising displaying a first group of documents on a first document vector; and displaying a second group of documents on a second document vector.
The invention goes to extremes in explaining A System and Method for Locating and Organizing Information (SMLOI) stored in the memory of a computer system.
The new filing system is designed for standard computers and a game console. The granted patent also states that "Future display devices such as E-paper, rolled screen and other display devices such as direct retina projection, direct brain stimulation means, and means for 3D representation are also considered as appropriate display devices."
The patent is segmented into chapters covering The Vector Knowledge Theory; The Computer System; The Information Element; the Multi-Dimensional Representation; The Interface; and finally, Story, Game and Simulation.
The Information Element
Apple states that a document or every other kind of data, recorded in the SMLOI is preferably represented using a unified format. The document under its unified format is called an "information element". One of the goals of a unified format is to provide an easy and constant manner of presenting various documents or data, using the same pattern. An information element can also be done by direct writing by the user inside the SMLOI using any mean like a keyboard or a pen-pointing device.
An information element generally presents an image of the document, the multiple characteristics linked to the inserted document, and other information related to document and to the SMLOI. The information element presents either an image of the document or the real document itself. The user can access the real document using the application program on the computer system directly through its information element.
Apple's patent FIG. 22 below shows a unified format representation for an information element. A typical information element is shown with its date of entry sub-area 165, an event-task-action sub-area 166, an information element characterization attributes sub-area 167, a hyperlink sub-area 168 and an entry sequence number sub-area 169.
Apple's patent FIG. 31 noted above depicts the second relative information element vector possibilities according to the fourth circular vector.
One proposed SMLOI interface using a typical windows-like environment main screen is shown in FIG. 43 below although the SMLOI can also be voice controlled.
The multi-part toolbox 466 is presented and acts on different functions available depending on the actions the SMLOI user is doing. The toolbox includes buttons identified by icons that allow the SMLOI user to act on selected elements. In some cases the buttons may call menus or dialog boxes.
Story, Game and Simulation
Apple states that in order to add meaning to the information contained inside the SMLOI, a story or a "game metaphor" can be applied to the vectorial space. This would help to link information elements between them to improve the user understanding. If necessary, when using a "game metaphor", a score could be calculated using multiple parameters. The SMLOI can use a 3D/virtual reality environment and, to some extent, turn the "chore" of SMLOI into some sort of a game; the system could even keep records and statistics of a user's performance as an information organizer and user.
Apple's patent FIG. 48 shows the SMLOI as seen through a game console (#582) and computer controlled display (#580) such as a TV screen. The actions are done using the game controller (#585). Remember that this is a granted patent and not a "design patent" – so the game controller is a generic figure only and not what a final game controller would actually look like.
In this example, the SMLOI commands could be allocated as follows: the left trigger 590 to move between information elements going back in time, the right trigger 592 to move between information elements going forward in time, a left thumbstick 594 to move on the absolute information element vector 230 and the relative information element vector 232 and to move the box 557 when in the previously described "radar screen" display format. A click on the left thumbstick 594 selects the visualized information element 150, the left directional pad 596 has basically the same functions as the left thumbstick 594, the white button 598 inserts a new blank information element 150 ready to be written while the black button 599 brings the user directly to the last information element inserted into the SMLOI. The "Y" button 600 accesses the "radar screen" display format, the "B" button 602 accesses sequentially the different modes in the SMLOI when an information element is selected, the "X" button 604 selects the communication box 495 and the "A" button 606 selects the toolbox 466. The right thumbstick 608 is used to move a "pan" view if no information element is selected and moves into the different areas / sub-areas if an information element is selected; a click on the right thumbstick 608 would select the pointed area part, the "back" button 610 would be utilized just as the back button on a classic web browser and the "start" button 612 would keep the same role as on a game console.
One of the goals of adding a "game metaphor" is to improve the user experience and to bring him/her to a point where managing information is not a burden anymore but a funny intuitive interesting task. One other goal is to have a score that quantify the efficiency of the user information management.
Apple credits Mathieu Audet as the sole inventor of granted patent 8,645,826 which was originally filed in Q3 2011. To review today's 20 granted patent claims and details, see Apple's patent.
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