Apple Files iPad Design Trademarks – Part 2
Location Based Social Networking & Video Calling Coming to iPhone

Apple's Media Players May Gain Cool Sense Line Controls


On Tuesday, a very insightful granted patent of Apple's came to light describing an intelligent bezel. Today, that very same theme continues and goes much further this time around to include what Apple describes as intelligent "sense lines." Sense lines could surround the display of a media player unseen under the multi-touch display glass as an alternative to a physical bezel which was described in Tuesday's granted patent in context with a tablet.  In covering Tuesday's patent report, Paul Boutin of VentureBeat wondered if Apple's technology would apply to an iPhone. "The clickwheel makes the iPod simple and relaxing to use, rather than fumbling through menus and pressing buttons. I can operate an iPod while jogging. Wish I could say that for my iPhone." Well, apparently Apple is thinking of doing just that. Though instead of using a virtual click wheel, Apple is proposing touch based sense lines that could control the devices functions like sound or any other menu items that you would traditionally find on a click wheel based menu system. The difference is that you'd be able to find your most valued menu items without scrolling and in one lightning quick click.



Sense Lines


Apple's patent relates to devices, which are noted as being media players, mobile phones, tablets and even notebooks, having one or more sensors located outside a viewing area of a touch screen display. These sensors located behind the mask can be separate from a touch sensor panel used to detect objects on or near the touch screen display, and can be used to enhance or provide additional functionality to the device. Apple refers to these additional functions as "functional components."

Although the patent covers double-sided Indium Tim Oxide (DITO) touch sensor panels, it should be understood that embodiments of the invention are also applicable to other touch sensor panel configurations, such as configurations in which the drive and sense lines are formed on different substrates or on the back of a cover glass, and configurations in which the drive and sense lines are formed on the same side of a single substrate.

One of the simplest examples that the patent provides us with is noted in FIG. 1 shown below. The media player could perform an action related to earpiece 110 when sensor 116 detects an object in proximity to earpiece. Such an action can include turning on the earpiece or adjusting a volume control of the earpiece. In addition, the media player could perform an action when sensor 116 does not detect an object in proximity to the earpiece - such as turn off the earpiece or adjust the volume control.

As for the Sense Line controls, the patent provides the example of "paging back and forth in a software program, Other specific examples of action that the Sense Line controls include changing channels (which could mean TV and/or radio) and 'paging back and forth in a software application"  which sounds a lot like multitasking to me.  


2 - Sense Lines 

Apple's patent FIG. 1 is a perspective of an electronic device having a touch screen display and a plurality of sensors located outside a viewing area of the device according to embodiments of the invention. FIGS. 2a, 2b and 2c show us cross-sectional view of a media device that illustrate electrical field lines extending across the touch display and sensors located behind a bezel of the device.


Drive & Sense Nodes outside Viewing Area


Apple's patent FIG. 3 illustrates an exemplary configuration of electronic device 100 having a plurality of drive nodes and sense nodes located outside the viewing area of the display – as shown as tiny boxes surrounding the viewable display area.


3 - EXEMPLARY DEVICE - DRIVE & SENSE NODES outside viewing area


Hovering Events: although only the actual touch of an object upon the touch screen display 106 can be detected by touch sensor panel 226 (see FIG. 2a above), the mere hovering of an object above the surface can be detected by sensor 118. The detection of a hovering object can enable the device to perform certain functions that are preferentially triggered by hovering as opposed to touch. Detection of a hovering object can be referred to herein as a "hover event."


Apple credits Steve Hotelling, Jeffrey Bernstein, David Amm and Omar Leung as the inventors of patent application 20100026656, originally filed in Q3 2008.


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 any patent reviewed here today, simply feed the individual patent number noted above into this search engine. 


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