Like your iPhone, but not enough to touch it? This patent's for you

Apple gearing up for a mega Surface challenge?

Do you baulk at the size of Microsoft’s mega Surface Hub whiteboard, and want something a little more Apple-tastic for your wall?

Fear not. Cupertino has filed a patent raising the prospect of interacting with your iOS device without touching the screen.

US Patent 9,250,734, awarded to Apple on February 2, will:

Use one or more proximity sensors in combination with one or more touch sensors in a multi-touch panel to detect the presence of a finger, body part or other object and control or trigger one or more functions in accordance with an ‘image” of touch provided by the sensor outputs.

Apple’s patent combines input from different infrared proximity sensors that would be combined with physical touch and proximity sensors in a single analogue channel.

The firm pioneered touch for the masses with the iPhone, kicking to the curb earlier puny efforts from Microsoft with its tablets. However, touch on the iPhone is not multi-touch – that is, capable of taking input from more than one source, or person. Pinching and resizing a screen using just your fingertips doesn’t count as multi-touch.

True multi-touch employs multiple IR sensors and cameras that create a Tron-like grid of light and image capture across the screen, with enough processing and software reasoning to accept and process instructions from the fingers and hands or lots of different people grabbing at it.

This was pushed with reasonable but limited success with Surface – not that Surface, but this Surface that is now called PixelSense: a bulking table running Windows Vista, and later Windows 7, on a Samsung screen. Prices start at $8,400.

Microsoft’s new Surface Hub, unveiled in January 2015 and released the following June – Apple’s patent was filed in March – follows in these footsteps.

Surface Hub comprises a pair of wall-hanging whiteboards 55- and 84-inches in size. The system employs IR and depth sensing and is capable of input from more than one person. With a price tag to match its size, Hub started at $8,999 and is going up to $21,999,

Given Apple’s penetration of boardrooms and whale-song breakout stations with iPods and iPhones, it would be remiss of the fruity firm not to deliver some big-screen collaborationware, too. ®

Similar topics

Other stories you might like

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021