On March 02 we posted a report titled "Samsung Invents Workaround to Apple's Pinch-to-Zoom Patent." In that report we presented Samsung's proposed single movement gesture that would replace the traditional two-finger pinch-to-zoom feature that they copied from Apple. Samsung was found guilty of patent infringement on that very feature, as we noted in last week's report. Today, we discovered a new Apple patent that was published in Europe on Thursday that introduces us to a new single-gesture as well. The gesture will be able to perform zooming functions as well as other commands for those wanting to operate their iPhones using only one hand.
Apple's Patent Background
Touch screens generally allow a user to perform various functions by touching (e.g., physical contact or near-field proximity) the touch sensor panel using a finger, stylus or other object at a location often dictated by a user interface (UI) being displayed by the display device.
Example touch screen input can include a scaling gesture, wherein a user touches a touch-sensitive surface with two fingers and pinches the fingers together or apart to scale an image on a screen. For example, a scaling gesture can be used to zoom in and out of a map in a mapping application. However, a user may be unable to perform a two finger gesture when attempting to hold and operate a device with only one hand.
Apple Invents a Single Contact Scaling Feature
Apple's invention relates to providing input to a computing device based on a single contact scaling gesture. A scaling gesture can be performed on a touch-sensitive panel to zoom in or out of a displayed image, for example. One example of a scaling gesture can include two touch contacts moving towards or away from each other.
A single contact scaling gesture can include selecting a scaling command based on a first touch input being held for a predetermined duration of time, or based on other criteria. Once the scaling command has been selected, subsequent touch input can determine both a scaling factor and a scaling direction of the scaling command.
Apple further notes that although examples disclosed in their patent application may be described and illustrated primarily in terms of scaling gestures, it should be understood that examples are not so limited, but are additionally applicable to performing single contact gestures that mimic the behavior of multi-contact gestures in general.
For example, the examples are also applicable to rotation gestures. Information of a single contact can be used to select a rotation gesture, and the movement of the single contact from a first position to a second position can be used to execute a rotation command, according to some examples. A gesture may be characterized by, but is not limited to a pinching, sliding, swiping, rotating, flexing, dragging, or tapping motion between or with any other finger or fingers, and each can be simulated with a single contact, according to examples in their patent application.
Single Contact Scaling Gesture
Apple's patent FIG. 1 noted below illustrates an exemplary single contact scaling gesture wherein a touch screen can detect a first touch input at a first position #102 and, subsequently, a second touch input at a second position #104. An arrow #106 illustrates a distance and direction between the first two positions (102 and 104). In some examples, the arrow #106 can also illustrate the motion of a single contact responsible for both the first and second touch input.
In some examples, motion of a first contact may be tracked from the first position to the second position, the tracking of the motion being based on the detection of the first touch input and the second touch input.
Additionally, a scaling command can be selected based on the detection of the first touch input. In some examples, the scaling command can be selected based on information of the first touch input which could include duration, motion, position, velocity, and acceleration, among other possibilities.
First Touch Duration and Temporal Thresholds
Using duration, for example, the first touch input can be compared to a predetermined temporal threshold. If the duration of the first touch input exceeds the predetermined temporal threshold, then a scaling command can be selected.
For example, if the duration of the first touch input exceeds 0.5 seconds, then a scaling command can be selected.
Other temporal thresholds may be used, such as 0.1 second, or 1.5 seconds, among other possibilities. If the detection of the first touch input includes detection of a liftoff and the duration of the first touch input does not exceed the predetermined temporal threshold, then alternate input may be selected instead of a scaling command.
First Touch Motion Tracking
In some examples, the first touch input can be further tested for motion. For example, a scaling command may only be selected if the first touch input stays within a distance threshold of the first position, during a duration that exceeds the predetermined temporal threshold. If the first touch input does not stay within the distance threshold of the first position, then alternate input may be selected instead of a scaling command.
For example, the first touch input may instead be interpreted as a drag gesture, and a corresponding drag command may be selected. Other criteria for selecting a scaling command can also be utilized in addition to, or as an alternative to, one or more of the preceding criteria, including, but not limited to, the location of the first touch input, or the application executing on the computing device at the time the first touch input is detected.
In some examples, a user can place the computing device into a state for detecting the first touch input as a scaling command.
Apple's patent FIG. 3A illustrates a horizontal line representing a first criterion of determining a scaling direction, while FIG. 3B illustrates a diagonal line representing a first criterion of determining a scaling direction.
Apple's patent FIG. 6 noted below illustrates an exemplary single contact scaling gesture method in a flowchart.
Apple's new single contact scaling gesture will also apply to such things as Apple's MacBook touchpad, Magic Trackpad and future applications such as keyboard.
Apple's patent was published in Europe on Thursday March 06, 2013.
For the proposed zoom feature, Apple's new single-gesture approach seems rather simple and realistic. However, some of the other single-gesture movements for creating a circle and so forth will likely have to be seen demonstrated at an Apple event to be truly appreciated.
Apple's long-winded x-y instructions and explanations were a little daunting to follow as it introduced virtual reflections. I think it'll just be simpler to use the traditional two finger gesture and get the job done. However, I'm sure that a quick demo from Craig Federighi will have us at ease at just how easy these new single-gesture commands will be and having us laughing all the while.
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