The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 35 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover Apple's second granted patent in the last year regarding the detection and processing of multi-touch events (the touching of fingers or other objects upon a touch-sensitive surface at distinct locations at about the same time) and hover events (the no-touch, close proximity hovering of fingers or other objects above a touch-sensitive surface but outside the near-field detection capabilities of touch sensors). Apple was also granted four design patents today covering the iPad 2 and more. We wrap up this week's granted patent report with our traditional listing of the remaining granted patents that were issued to Apple today.
Granted Patent: Proximity and Multitouch Sensor Detection and Demodulation
Apple's newly granted patent generally relates to multitouch under number 9,250,734. This is a 2007 invention that eventually led to Apple's Magic Touchpad that was officially announced on July 27, 2010. This is Apple's second granted patent on this technology in the last year. We covered the first granted patent back in March 2015.
Apple's patent FIG. 4E noted above illustrates an exemplary concurrent use of proximity sensors #422 and #424 and multi-touch panel #426 according to some embodiments of this invention. In the example of FIG. 4e, two input devices, a standard keyboard 428 and multi-touch panel 426, can be available to a user.
Apple's patent also hints of a virtual keyboard. Apple notes that "One or more proximity sensors can be used to implement the function of "pushing" virtual buttons appearing on the touch panel (in some embodiments with an audible confirmation) and trigger functions without actually making contact with the touch panel." In 2012 Apple advanced their work on a virtual keyboard.
HP's new Sprout PC offers a virtual keyboard generated from a back tower of the PC that hangs over the display and both performs 3D scans of objects and projects a virtual keyboard as noted below. So a virtual keyboard from Apple could still be a potential product further down the road.
Apple has a number of recent patents regarding 3D scans from their acquisition of Israeli company PrimeSense. Last week a new in-air gesture patent surfaced and in that report we pointed to several other patents regarding projection technology. Last year we posted another granted patent report titled "Apple Wins a Patent for a New 3D Camera Accessory & Desktop Stand with Virtual Projection," that covers this same technology.
To understand Apple's bigger picture regarding the possible future use of hover event technology, you can always review a few of Apple's other inventions on record as presented below:
Features using hover detection technology is also an area of interest to Apple's competitor Microsoft who just filed a continuation patent last week titled "Hover Controlled User Interface Element.
Apple Granted Four Design Patents Today
Apple was granted four design patents today. The first design patent covers the iPad 2 as noted below (D748,622). The second design patent covers Apple's Touch ID on an iPhone 5s (D748,621) not shown. It's identical to the design patent that was granted to Apple last week. Apple's third granted design patent covers the Apple Watch band attachment device (D748,527) which we also covered last week. Apple's fourth design patent covers Apple's second patent win for a speaker stand (D748,606). The latter relates to a Beats speaker stand which was first granted back in May 2015.
The Remaining Patents granted to Apple Today
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Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of granted patents with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each Granted Patent is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any Granted Patent should be read in its entirety for full details. About Making Comments on our Site: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit any comments. Comments are reviewed daily from 5am to 6pm MST and sporadically over the weekend.