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  • Apple Working on "Virtual Input Tools"


    Yet another really complex Apple patent has been uncovered by Jack Purcher, who runs the Patently Apple site, and this one's a doozy. Apple's apparently working on new touchscreen controls which it calls "virtual input tools." The screen would display an image of, say, a trackpad in 2D or 3D, and you'd use the virtual trackpad the same way you'd use a physical trackpad. I'm having a pretty hard time wrapping my head around this one, but Purcher is really excited about it, suggesting that it could be the "revolutionary OS feature" that Apple was hiring software engineers to work on. Hmm.

    The basic idea is that you have a virtual trackpad mapped to your existing trackpad. In fact, one of the drawings shows exactly that: a laptop with a virtual trackpad on the screen, showing how using the virtual trackpad is just like using the real trackpad. What neither Purcher nor the Apple inventor, John Louch, explains is why you would need a virtual trackpad when you already have a real one. The clue seems to be in the interactivity of the virtual input device. Interface windows, documents (e.g., videos, images, text), file directories, and applications can be displayed on the virtual trackpad and you could select them directly. Or the virtual trackpad can respond to input by animating the image on the screen, by becoming three dimensional, or by playing a video clip or an audio clip.

    This patent is particularly interesting when viewed in light of the news out this morning about the possibility of Apple working on an iMac with a touchscreen. Though it's not discussed in either the patent or the article, you could use the virtual trackpad on a touchscreen computer that has no keyboard or mouse. Rather than touching interface elements directly - and thus covering them with your finger - you can use the virtual trackpad to control a pointer on the screen.

    The language of the patent is pretty dense, as these things tend to be - for example "if a user provides input at position 226 through the trackpad 220, the virtual input device application can map the physical coordinates of position 226 to corresponding virtual coordinates that indicate a user's intent to interact with virtual object 246 in the virtual trackpad 240" - but the general idea is pretty straightforward: replacing the Finder as we know it now with a "virtual input device." What would this actually look like? Your guess is as good as mine, but let's remember that the inventor, John Louch, is also the guy who worked on Apple's 2008 patent for a three dimensional Mac OS X called "Multi-Dimensional Desktop."

    Source: 9to5Mac
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Apple Working on "Virtual Input Tools" started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 12 Comments
    1. Daerid's Avatar
      Daerid -
      It sounds compelling for my Mac Mini, I have to remote to mine to control it cuz it's my media center and has no keyboard or mouse connected. As for on an iPhone? There are already apps to do this, so adding it as a no cost option saves money for those that see a need.

      Nice thing about an "iPhone trackpad" is that it would be great for business presentations. Allowing the presenter to walk away from the computer, yet still control the presentation.


      Sent from my iPhone using ModMyi
    1. whereswaldo's Avatar
      whereswaldo -
      This is probably one of those things apple just patents because if someone ever wants to use it, they gotta pay top dollar
    1. zoso10's Avatar
      zoso10 -
      The screen would display an image of, say, a trackpad in 2D or 3D
      3D??? So I have to wear these stupid glasses to look at my Mac now too??....
    1. jiggyjae's Avatar
      jiggyjae -
      Quote Originally Posted by zoso10 View Post
      3D??? So I have to wear these stupid glasses to look at my Mac now too??....
      Lmao. Aww how much I would hate that.
    1. NessLookAlike's Avatar
      NessLookAlike -
      Apple's working on virtual input tools? How about working on actual input tools, like a super-accurate capacitive-touch stylus?! Heyooooooooooooooo~!
    1. reanimationxp's Avatar
      reanimationxp -
      hahaha whatever it is, i lol'd
    1. glassJAw's Avatar
      glassJAw -
      That's good stuff
    1. dq13's Avatar
      dq13 -
      those spammers are the ones that just post to get into the B/S/T forums and scam people selling crap they dont have and stealing our $$
    1. Be Expressive's Avatar
      Be Expressive -
      Apple's beast at get new ideas
      lol
    1. Rob2G's Avatar
      Rob2G -
      Sounds Great.
    1. numanair's Avatar
      numanair -
      BREAKING NEWS: Apple making wacky patents for the entertainment and puzzlement of the Apple-obsessed.
    1. spazturtle's Avatar
      spazturtle -
      Quote Originally Posted by zoso10 View Post
      3D??? So I have to wear these stupid glasses to look at my Mac now too??....
      I'm guessing you haven't heard of parallax barriers, they are a new from of 3d that means you don't need to wear glasses, that is how the Nintendo 3DS works.