Apple invents a new 'Edge-Swipe' Touch Event that could one day eliminate Physical Volume Buttons & more
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to proximity sensing. More particularly, the present embodiments relate to proximity and/or touch sensing of edges of an electronic device. Although the patent application focuses the patent figures on Apple Watch, the invention can apply to other devices including future iPhone, iPad, Macs or future wearables.
Apple wants to add a new kind of swipe action that distinguishes a standard swipe action from one side of the device to the other and one that specifically starts at the very edge of the display that could pull up a secondary menu.
The edge swipe could also trigger new actions. For instance, when listening to your favorite tunes, a quick edge-swipe up or down will control your volume without ever fumbling for a button. That would allow a future iPhone to drop physical volume buttons and be more waterproof.
Apple's patent FIG. 3 shows a combination of sensing touch on a display and proximity or touch to an edge of the electronic device; FIG. 4 shows sensing movement of proximity or touch on an edge of the electronic device.
Apple's patent FIG. 11 shows a flow chart illustrating an example method for performing actions using combined touch screen and proximity or edge touch input; FIG. 12 shows a flow chart illustrating an example method for performing actions using moving edge proximity or touch input.
Combination of Sense Touch on a Display and Proximity or Touch to an Edge
More specifically, Apple's patent FIG. 3 illustrates a combination of sensing touch on a display and proximity or touch to an edge of the Apple Watch (electronic device 100).
As shown, a user's finger touches the edge #103 of the Apple Watch touch display and then slides across the touch display in the direction of left (#307). The watch may utilize one or more combined proximity and force sensors and/or other proximity/touch sensors to detect the touch of the user's finger to the edge and the touch screen to detect the following slide in the direction of left.
The watch may then perform one or more actions based on that action. For example, the watch may display a first menu when a sliding touch in the direction left starting on the touch display is detected but may display a second menu when a sliding touch in the direction of left starting on at the edge #103 is detected.
In Apple's patent FIG. 4 they illustrate sensing movement of proximity or touch on an edge of the Apple Watch. As shown, a user's finger is moved in an up direction (#408) along an edge of the Apple Watch (proximate to and/or touching) and adjacent to the edge #103 of the touch display. The Apple Watch may utilize one or more combined proximity and force sensors and/or other proximity/touch sensors to detect the movement of the user's finger in the up direction and perform one or more specific actions.
For example, the watch may increase a volume setting when movement of the user's finger in the up direction (or decrease when movement of the user's finger in an opposite direction) is detected.
In another example, movement of the user's finger in the up or down direction may be used to scroll through a graphical menu in a corresponding direction.
Apple's patent application 20170322660 was filed back a few months ago in July. Some of the groundwork was done in the summer of 2015. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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