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Apple Attempts to Patent Virtual Knobs & New Instrument for GarageBand

1. Apple Attempts to Patent Virtual Knobs & New Instrument for GarageBand
On September 6, 2012, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals new virtual controls that are in the works along with a new virtual instrument for a future version of GarageBand.


Apple's Patent Covers Virtual Knobs & Multi-Modal Inputs


The first patent application in this report relates to user interfaces and more specifically to making touch-based interfaces more user friendly. In particular, the invention relates to a system configured to practice a user interface element such as a virtual on-screen knob. Yet in the bigger picture, the input could be a touch, a tap, a swipe, a multi-finger gesture, a flick, a drag, and/or a press-and-hold, for example.


The system matches the input to an input category selected from a group of predefined input categories for the user interface element. The input could also be multi-modal, such as a combination of a touch gesture and a speech command. In this scenario, the system could match only a portion, such as the touch gesture, of the multi-modal input to the input category.


2. Apple's Invention Covers Virtual Knobs & Multi-Modal Inputs

Apple's patent FIG. 2 illustrates an example mobile device 200, such as a smartphone, tablet, or computer, with a touch-screen interface 202 and exemplary virtual knobs 204, 206, 208, 210, 212 on the touch-screen interface. The knobs could be images, three-dimensional representations or approximations of real knobs, simple geometric shapes, and/or any other graphical representation.


Apple's patent FIG. 3 illustrates a rotational gesture in relation to a virtual knob; FIG. 4 illustrates horizontal and vertical gestures in relation to a virtual knob; FIG. 5 illustrates point gestures in relation to a virtual knob; FIG. 6 illustrates a multi-finger rotational gesture in relation to a virtual knob; FIG. 7 illustrates a multi-finger directional gesture in relation to a virtual knob; FIG. 8 illustrates pinch and zoom gestures in relation to a virtual knob; and FIG. 9 illustrates a menu gesture in relation to a virtual knob.


Apple's patent application was originally filed in Q1 2011 by inventors Gerhard Lengeling and Marko Junghanns and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office.


A Tiny Peek into a Future Version of GarageBand


The second patent application covered in this report somewhat relates to the previous patent. In this application, Apple appears to provide us with a tiny peek into a future version of GarageBand which covers a virtual sustain pedal, dial or lock and sliders. The virtual knob presented as element # 210 in the previous patent figure shows up again in this current application.


Apple's patent FIG. 6 illustrates an example application 602 on a touch-screen mobile device such as an iPad, smartphone, or desktop computer, integrating a virtual sustain pedal 604. The example application presents a piano keyboard for producing audio output, and a slider as a virtual sustain pedal for the user to toggle and lock or temporarily toggle the sustain pedal functionality.


3. A tiny peek into a future Version of GarageBand

In place of or in conjunction with the piano keyboard, the application (GarageBand) could provide any other on-screen input, such as an on-screen guitar or a virtual on-screen Theremin.


According to Apple, two devices could communicate with each in a wired or wireless manner, such as via a USB cable, near-field communications, Bluetooth, ZigBee, 802.11x WiFi, or other IP-based communication mechanism.


Yet another GarageBand related patent application was published by the U.S. Patent Office today which covers different modes of touch gesturing in context with iPad's version of GarageBand. For more on this, see "Electronic Percussion Gestures for Touchscreens."


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T5 Steve Jobs, Think Different Forevermore - June 2012



Jack Purcher

Hi Steve, to answer your question, the patent was originally filed in Q1 2011, so Steve was still with us.

Steve Pringle

At least I will have a reason to pull out my PowerMac G4 out of the closet. So, was this patent thought up before or after Steve's passing?

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