The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from Samsung earlier this month that generally relates to a possible new future User Interface (UI) mode. According to Samsung's patent application there are limits to capacitive touch used on today's smartphone and tablets when in very cold like in Russia or at a ski resort. It's also impractical to reach a touch screen that's on your car's infotainment system. Samsung's new invention will allow a touch device to also work with a motion based interface.
According to Samsung, a portable device comprises a display unit; a sensor unit for sensing a user's motion; and a processor configured to control, if the user's motion is sensed by the sensor unit, the display unit to release a standby mode of the portable device and output a User Interface (UI) mode screen corresponding to a type of the sensed motion.
Samsung's patent FIG. 6 presented below is a flowchart illustrating a method of providing a UI mode of a portable device.
Samsung's patent FIGS. 4A to 4D below are diagrams illustrating a proximity UI mode in action; FIG. 5 is a diagram illustrating a proximity input method.
As noted earlier, if the display can't use touch to control the display, the system could us motion in-air gesturing that in-depth cameras could support. In patent FIG. 5 we some of the motions that the smartphone's camera would be able to understand as a motion-control to make a web page scroll up or down and other motions to trigger other actions mimicking button controls like adjusting audio or t take a photo.
In March of this year Apple's VCSEL Partner Finisar revealed that future gesture recognition and autonomous vehicle applications will drive this technology that is built into Apple's TrueDepth camera.
Evidently the top two smartphone makers are aiming to bring in-air gesture recognition to their respective future smartphones.
Apple's Israeli team that includes the original PrimeSense team who worked on the TrueDepth camera has been working for more than a decade on in-air gesture systems for computers including desktops and TVs. Below is just one example of a patent-pending invention with others that could be reviewed here: 01, 02, 03, 04 and 05.
As competitors, Apple and Samsung are constantly going head-to-head on many feature fronts for future smart phones, tablets and watches. We pointed out two of them earlier this month regarding sleep monitoring apps and devices as well as health sensors for smartwatches.
So at the end of the day it's not surprising to see Samsung wanting to play catch with Apple on the future use of in-air gestures for mobile devices and other computers.
While Apple's Israeli team is likely a decade ahead of Samsung on in-air gesturing technology, you could never tell. There could always be an upset if one team is hungrier than the other in bringing this feature to market first. So only time will tell who the winner will be in bringing their respective in-air gesturing patents to life.
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