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Google Patent Clearly Eying the Desktop Market for Android

1 - Google is Clearly Eying the Desktop Market in New Patent
A recent patent filing by Google surprisingly indicates that they're seriously eying the desktop and notebook markets for Android. Interestingly, the patent seems to focus on similar capabilities now found in Apple's Multi-Touch Trackpad and Magic Trackpad. In many ways that's understandable considering that Google is working on the Android for x86 project along with a serious list of other Intel-Android related projects. Android is headed for the desktop and today's report lays out Google's specific work on trackpad operations corresponding to touchscreen events.  


Patent Overview


According to Google, certain applications and operating systems, such as their own Android operating system, have been designed around a touchscreen user interface. However, it may be beneficial to allow such applications and operating systems to be implemented on more traditional devices, such as a desktop, netbook or laptop device that include physical keyboards and/or pointing devices, such as trackpad devices.


Trackpad operations may be directly mapped to touchscreen events, which may be processed by applications that may be configured to process such events. In such fashion, a computing device may be capable of processing touchscreen-based events for applications that are configured to process such events during execution on the computing device, regardless of whether the computing device includes or is coupled to a touchscreen.


For instance, a user may initially move a single finger on the trackpad device to cause a displayed pointer to move correspondingly on a display device of the computing device. The user may touch or tap a single finger on the trackpad device to deliver a simulated touchscreen finger tap at the current pointer location as displayed on the display device. The trackpad finger tap operation may thereby be mapped to a touchscreen finger tap event that may be generated for processing by an application that is designed to receive input via a touchscreen interface.


Multi-Touch TrackPad


If the user touches two fingers on the trackpad device and substantially moves them together, those movements can be mapped into absolute touchscreen events relative to the current pointer location displayed at the start of movement, allowing the user to directly interact with graphical elements located at the current pointer location as if they are using a touchscreen device, and perform traditional touchscreen operations (e.g., dragging/flinging content, scrolling).


Desktops & Notebooks Configured to Map Trackpad Operations to Corresponding Touchscreen Events


In Google's patent FIG. 1 shown below we see is a block diagram illustrating an example of a computing device (shown as patent point 2 of the patent figure) that may be configured to map trackpad operations to corresponding touchscreen events. The computing device may, in some examples, comprise or be part of a desktop computing device or a mobile portable computing device such as a netbook, laptop or tablet device.


2 - Desktop to map trackpad operations to corresponding touchscreen events

Google states that a user may use multi-touch actions on the trackpad. In the example shown in FIG. 1, the user has placed two fingers of their hand onto the surface of the trackpad device to provide multi-touch input. Of course, the user may provide any form of single- or multi-touch gesture input via trackpad device which includes a stylus option.


Example of Trackpad Operations


Google's patent FIG. 4 shown below is a diagram illustrating example trackpad operations that may be mapped to corresponding touchscreen events.


3 - example trackpad operations

Virtual Touchscreen Input Device


There may also be a mechanism to map multi-touch operations from the trackpad device to select certain touchscreen events, such as pinch-zoom events. The computing device may, for example, generate such touchscreen events upon determining that the user's two fingers are moving in different directions on the trackpad device, or even possibly by determining that the user is holding down a modifier on the physical keyboard while moving the two fingers on the trackpad device. In such fashion, the track pad can function as a "virtual" touchscreen input device.


4- virtual trackpad translation of multitouch to touchscreen events like pinch-zoom

Google's patent FIG. 5 shown below is a conceptual diagram illustrating an example mapping of a trackpad tap operation to a touchscreen tap event at a current location of pointer 13. The display device may serve as the output device, such that trackpad 4 and display device 12 in combination may function as a virtual touchscreen device, as shown in FIG. 5.


5 - mapping trackpad operations to touchscreen events - Google patent

As one example, Google's patent FIG. 6 shown above is a conceptual diagram illustrating an example mapping of a trackpad multi-touch movement operation to a touchscreen single-touch gesture event.


Google's patent was filed with the USPTO in Q3 2011 and published in February 2012.


Will We See Android on Haswell?


Back in 2005 Steve Jobs announced that Apple was transitioning to Intel's X86 and the transition was rather a quick one due to an army of Intel engineers assisting Apple. So if Intel is now seriously behind getting android to Intel processors, it's all but a done deal. It wouldn't surprise me in the least to see Android on a Haswell based Ultrabook in 2013, as that platform promises to support multiple operating system functionality as you could see in the slide below. Haswell will also power next generation desktops that will support multiple operating systems and voila, Android is a serious candidate for the desktop for Android fans. It's also the processor that will push the Ultrabook to function as a Notebook-Tablet combination unit and there's where Android will be able to shine.


6 - idf 2005 slide, haswell designed to run mulitple operating systems

With Apple integrating more iOS features into OS X this summer with the introduction of Mountain Lion, the influences of the tablet moving into the desktop space will continue to change the traditional desktop OS. Likewise, the popularity of Google's Android almost demands that it now move to something like the 2013 Ultrabook. And by doing so, it must be able to offer both multi-touch and trackpad functionality. That's what today's patent reveals and confirms. 


Notice: Patently Apple presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for full and accurate details. Revelations found in patent applications shouldn't be interpreted as rumor or fast-tracked according to rumor timetables. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.


Here are a Few Great Sites covering our Original Report


MacSurfer, Google News, Google Mobile News Hong Kong, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, phoneArena UK, DSL Reports, Apple Investor News, Google Reader, CellnTechnews, Macnews, iPhone World Canada, MarketWatch, Talk Android, CNET, Android and Me, BGR, Phandroid, GMA News, Smart Company Australia, Android Community, Techmeme, APC, Caschys Blog Germany, Go Android, Pressetext Germany, Android Authority, ADSL Zone Spanish, SleetherzITC Kommunikation Switzerland, Phones Review UK, Voice of Grey Hat, ARN IT News Australia, International Business Times, Assist Biz, eWeek, and more.


Note: The sites that we link to above offer you an avenue to make your comments about this report in other languages. These great community sites also provide our guests with varying takes on Google's latest invention. Whether they're pro or con, you may find them to be interesting, fun or feisty. If you have the time, join in!




@ David. That's a good point that only a lawyer could answer. On the surface, however, it appears that Google doesn't care about legal wranglings. They seem to be the new patent-arogant player in the market surpassing Apple.

@ Huhster. The patent is about Multi-Touch gestures not just a trackpad like mouse. Huge difference.

Every version of Linuix works with a touchpad why would Android be any different ? Android has supported touchpad/mouse with a cursor since Honeycomb, none of this is a surprise, you can already by netbooks that run Android.

This seems like something Apple or Microsoft would already have covered with their own patents. How might these previous patent holders impact Google's patent?

I see more Apple lawsuits over multi-touch if Google takes Android into more hardware platforms. 2013 should be a critical year for current lawsuits. Should Apple get favorable rulings I expect they will try and get "damages" from Google. Currently those with expertise are favoring Apple slightly in their odds.

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