The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 31newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover Apple's invention for a future iPhone that will be able to use its camera as an input interface to control iPhone call functionality.
Apple Granted Patent for Finger Swiping Camera Controls
Apple has been granted a patent today for their invention relating to mobile devices that have a camera function and that can detect vibrations and/or movement of the device and interpret them into phone functionality.
Apple notes that in one embodiment of the invention, one can control functions of a portable handheld electronic device by swiping a finger across a camera lens of the device. In other embodiments, the user can control voicemail functions by tapping the device, which causes the device to vibrate or move. In one embodiment, to access his voice mailbox, a user may tap the phone to cause playback of a message to pause, tap the phone again to resume playback, swipe his finger over the camera lens in one direction to fast forward playback, and swipe his finger over the camera lens in another direction to rewind playback. These actions allow the user to control functions of voicemail review without removing the device from over his ear.
In another embodiment, functions for controlling call features utilize similar user actions or motions. Features such as merging multiple calls, putting a call on hold, and switching between or among multiple simultaneous calls may be controlled by single or double (or any number of) taps of the device, as detected by an accelerometer of the device. These taps may be preprogrammed by a manufacturer, or selected and programmed by a user.
And lastly, Apple notes that a user may navigate a document being shown on a display screen of the device by guiding his finger over the camera lens. While viewing the display screen, the user holds the device in the palm of his hand in a supine position. Rather than pressing or sliding directional buttons next to the screen or touching a touch screen to navigate a webpage document or contacts list, the user may move his finger over the camera lens in the direction he wishes to navigate the page. For example, gliding the finger over the camera lens in an upwards direction navigates the page in an analogous upwards direction. Doing so allows the user to easily steer the display of the device in any direction, with the same hand that holds the device.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 illustrated below shows us an iPhone having a built-in digital camera in use for navigating the display.
Apple's patent FIG. 5 above illustrates a flow diagram of operations by an iPhone implementing user commands.
Apple credits Chad Seguin, Justin Gregg and Michael Lee as the inventors of granted patent 8,855,707. Patently Apple covered this as a patent application back in 2010. See our original report for more details.
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