Patent Reveals Possible Groundbreaking Multi-Touch Features for Apple's iSlate

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patentNow that everyone knows the iSlate is real, the question is: what the hell is this thing going to be like? How will it work? What will wow us about the iSlate that we never really expected?

A tipster just dug up some great details about a new multi-touch gestures that may help answer these questions [CrunchGear summarized many other cool gestures here]. Obviously, we don’t know if Apple will use this technology, but patents from a company they previously acquired, Fingerworks, reveal two patents that might apply to the new Apple Tablet.

The first one enables you to write on a touchscreen in the same way that you would a piece of paper.

You clench your fist and pinch your thumb and index finger together like you’re holding a pen (see image above). Now, if you press your hand down to the tablet with this position, you can now write like you would on a piece of paper. Of course, it might be weird at first: you’ll probably hate the fact that you don’t have anything in your fingers, but we all thought the same thing about not having a keyboard. I’ll take the wait-and-see approach: if this does land itself on the iTablet, it’s definitely something I could see myself using. From the patent itself:

[0129] FIG. 15 is a proximity image of a right hand in a pen grip configuration. The thumb 201 and index fingertip 202 are pinched together as if they were holding a pen but in this case they are touching the surface instead. Actually the thumb and index finger appear the same here as in FIG. 14. However, the middle 203, ring 204, and pinky 205 fingers are curled under as if making a fist, so the knuckles from the top of the fingers actually touch the surface instead of the finger tips. The curling under of the knuckles actually places them behind the pinched thumb 201 and index fingertip 202 very close to the palm heels 206, 207. The knuckles also appear larger than the curled fingertips of FIG. 14 but the same size as the flattened fingertips in FIG. 13. These differences in size and arrangement will be measured by the pen grip detector 17 to distinguish this pen grip configuration from the closed and flattened hand configurations.

Another patent enables the touchscreen to identify if you are typing or if you just happen to have your hand on the screen. Similar to the way the iPhone detects that you are holding your phone up to your face to talk, this may be a small feature that goes a long way towards improving usability of the iSlate.

[0295] The typing recognition process described above thus allows the multi-touch surface to ergonomically emulate both the typing and hand resting capabilities of a standard mechanical keyboard. Crisp taps or impulsive presses on the surface generate key symbols as soon as the finger is released or decision diamond 792 verifies the impulse has peaked, ensuring prompt feedback to the user. Fingers intended to rest on the surface generate no keys as long as they are members of a synchronized finger press or release subset or are placed on the surface gently and remain there along with other fingers for a second or two. Once resting, fingers can be lifted and tapped or impulsively pressed on the surface to generate key symbols without having to lift other resting fingers. Typematic is initiated ether by impulsively pressing and maintaining distinguishable force on a key, or by holding a finger on a key while other fingers on the hand are lifted. Glancing motions of single fingers as they tap key regions are easily tolerated since most cursor manipulation must be initiated by synchronized slides of two or more fingers.

There is good reason to believe that Apple will be introducing a new language of touchscreen technology with the launch of the iSlate. The pen technology definitely has potential, and we’re excited to see whether it is implemented.

All of the information above comes from the US Patent website at http://appft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PG01&s1=Fingerworks.AS.&OS=AN/Fingerworks&RS=AN/Fingerworks.

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