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  • Apple Patent Shows iPhone Control Via Camera


    Apple's patent applications are an interesting way of keeping track of what the secretive company is working on for future products. These patents are revealed often years later, but because of the long product lifecycle often reveal details of technologies that are still in development. Today's revelations are a mixed bag: a new security method that lets users hold physical objects up to the screen for authentication; and a cool new way of controlling your iPhone without touching the screen, by swiping your finger over the camera.

    Patently Apple details the camera control technology, including some of the drawings included in the application. This invention deals with the common problem of how to control your iPhone when you're holding it to your head, for example when you are listening to your voicemail. While playing a message back, without having to take the phone away from your ear, you'd be able to rewind the message by swiping your finger across the camera in one direction, and fast forward it by swiping in the other direction. To stop rewinding or fast forwarding, you tap your finger against the phone (not the camera). A tap can also be used to pause playback at normal speed. This is a slick innovation that would make voicemail a lot more usable in a single stroke, and would not appear to require any additional hardware: it should be something that can be implemented in a future release.

    The patent also describes using the same or similar swipes to control other applications. You'd use the camera in much the same way as you'd use scroll bars: a swipe down moves the screen or selection upward, and a leftward swipe moves the screen right. This alternate scrolling method would be very useful in situations when for whatever reason you need to control the screen without hiding it with your finger, or where touching the screen would be interpreted as a tap or drag.

    The other patent application shows a way to use physical objects held up to a touchscreen computer - which are called "signets" in the text of the application - to allow a user to log in or perform different actions like launching a program, opening a file, or encrypting or decoding a message, etc. The whole idea of coming full circle back to using a physical key rather than a password is interesting, but more notable is the fact that Apple was thinking about touchscreen computers way back in 2004, when this application was made. Last month, the Taiwanese website DigiTimes had a report that asserted Apple would be unveiling a 22-inch touchscreen iMac in 2010.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Apple Patent Shows iPhone Control Via Camera started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 15 Comments
    1. extremzocker's Avatar
      extremzocker -
      eins
      hopefully we will see this in future apple products
    1. joec2's Avatar
      joec2 -
      They dont make half the stuff they get patents for. They just get them so that nobody else does and makes something better.
    1. sziklassy's Avatar
      sziklassy -
      This is actually one of the cooler things that I think I have seen lately come from Apple. I feel this would up production costs of the unit quite a bit, but could be wrong. In any case, I am on blutooth only 99% of the time so it wouldn't be so much useful for me, but it is worth recognizing a possible cool new feature. Also, as always, the front facing camera would be great
    1. santaf's Avatar
      santaf -
      i don't think it's a front facing camera... the image shows a dotted line for the finger swiping. This shows to me it's using the back camera. i don't really see much use in the finger swiping, it's like that one itunes mod that allows you to use your web camera to swipe through coverflow and play your songs and pause them... that thing does not work very good at all.
    1. mikerlx's Avatar
      mikerlx -
      I would take this with a grain of salt because what fortune-teller would have saw a Nano that could take video not pictures and increase an iPod touch to 64 gb with no camera??
    1. jayson9's Avatar
      jayson9 -
      Quote Originally Posted by pauldanielash View Post
      .....The patent also describes using the same or similar swipes to control other applications. You'd use the camera in much the same way as you'd use scroll bars: a swipe down moves the screen or selection upward, and a leftward swipe moves the screen right. This alternate scrolling method would be very useful in situations when for whatever reason you need to control the screen without hiding it with your finger, or where touching the screen would be interpreted as a tap or drag.....
      Heck.... I would throw it against a concrete wall if it would help keep it from dropping a call or get 3G service in all areas like they promissed!
    1. niqolas619's Avatar
      niqolas619 -
      I like how the caption at the top of the pic says "Control a future iPhone or iPad..." I know this is all just preliminary stuff that would maybe never even make it to market, but would anybody actually hold an iPad up to their head to make calls?! (this is assuming that they would add a built in mic and speaker, of course, not to mention adding the ability to even make calls to the device)
    1. ty22's Avatar
      ty22 -
      Quote Originally Posted by pauldanielash View Post
      The patent also describes using the same or similar swipes to control other applications.
      Palm has this already. Its called the gesture area.
    1. moon#pie's Avatar
      moon#pie -
      lol. the open window on the iphone in the picture looks like windows os.
    1. k.nitsua's Avatar
      k.nitsua -
      The dude in the drawing needs to cut his nails.

      Other than that, I can only think of a handful of innovations that make this technology worthwhile. However, this would also require a camera turned on all the time... can someone say battery issues?

      They should just make an area in the back of the iPhone susceptible to touch like their multi-touch tracking pads (which, I recall, they do have a patent on). Now THAT can have a LOT of applications... it'll be as revolutionary as the Z-button on the N64.
    1. lfc_'s Avatar
      lfc_ -
      Nokias had this for roughly 2 years. Possibly longer, bit slow, it's also not as easy or usable as it seems
    1. Armored's Avatar
      Armored -
      this would suck for any cases they'd make for the iphone. "yea, I have a huge gaping hole in the back of my protective case so i can work my voicemail."
    1. pyromcr's Avatar
      pyromcr -
      ya, this seems like it is a good idea, but i probable will never happen...
    1. mofolo's Avatar
      mofolo -
      will never happen... lol

      but looks awesome.
    1. rhekt's Avatar
      rhekt -
      so my best guess is that it will be finger print recognition for security purposes.