updated 09:25 am EDT, Thu August 2, 2007
Apple Touch Dictionary
Apple hopes to patent an interface that would allow users to customize and learn multi-touch gestures similar to those of the iPhone on a computer, according to a recent filing noted by MacNN blogger Neo. First submitted just days before the iPhone's introduction, the document would offer a dictionary program, sometimes running in the background, that would monitor the user's individual finger chords (patterns) on screen. The dictionary could then show the user a range of possible gestures using animated or still icons with a description of what each command will accomplish. The dictionary could also be cued by less direct methods such as bringing hands close to the screen or pressing a physical button, Apple says.
Experienced users could alternately bring up a software control panel that would allow them to customize the gestures and their resulting actions, including the ability to create new gestures. The system could also be intelligent enough to separate simpler gestures, such as one- or two-finger swiping motions, from more complex multi-finger commands that may be too difficult or impractical for novices.
Apple provides no indication of any specific products that would be likely to implement such a technique, and as with all patents, will not have to implement its invention in a shipping product. However, the company notes that the patent applies not just to cellphones and PDAs but also to portable media players and desktop, notebook, or tablet computers.