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Apple Applies for New Multitouch Patent

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 17 comments

A recent patent application filed in LA has kicked the Apple tablet rumor mill into overdrive.

We've already had two stories about Apple's tablet this week. One about the company bringing back one of the lead developers on its Newton platform (possible to take charge of marketing the new tablet), and one regarding a deal between Apple, newspapers and text book publishers.

Today there's a slightly more interesting rumor doing the rounds and this one is based on a patent application filed by Apple in June of this year. AppleInsider reports that a filing by Morrison and Foerster LLP on behalf of Apple describes a 'a hand-based system that would allow "unprecedented integration of typing, resting, pointing, scrolling, 3D manipulation, and handwriting into a versatile, ergonomic computer input device."'

Now, companies file patents all the time and sometimes, they just sit there and do nothing forever and ever. However, with all the tablet rumors we've had over the last year (does it feel WAY longer to anyone else?), it's hard to believe Apple would try to patent something that individually detects each finger and both palms, allowing for touchscreen capabilities unlike any other.

AppleInsider goes on to cite the patent filing which gives examples of the touchscreen capabilities. These include resting of hands, measuring when a hand or fingers touches and leaves the surface, interpreting taps from one finger as mouse button clicks, but disregarding a tap from two fingers, and more.

While most Apple tablet rumors have become quite boring (an ereader, really?), this one actually makes me sit up and wonder what the company could have up its sleeve.

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  • 15 Hide
    eyemaster , October 2, 2009 1:26 PM
    I really don't like this type of patent. The touch screen has been invented already, multiple touch or not, it's still the same type of device. It's like I invented the 2x4 plank of wood, so I patent it, but then I have to patent having 2 planks of wood. One touch, 2 touch, 20 touch, what's the difference besides the programing behind it? Even the programming is the same logic, you just multiply it.
Other Comments
  • 15 Hide
    eyemaster , October 2, 2009 1:26 PM
    I really don't like this type of patent. The touch screen has been invented already, multiple touch or not, it's still the same type of device. It's like I invented the 2x4 plank of wood, so I patent it, but then I have to patent having 2 planks of wood. One touch, 2 touch, 20 touch, what's the difference besides the programing behind it? Even the programming is the same logic, you just multiply it.
  • 6 Hide
    eddieroolz , October 2, 2009 1:27 PM
    Will I be able to type on the Apple keyboarv?
  • 2 Hide
    Blessedman , October 2, 2009 1:35 PM
    or better eyemaster you patent the 2x4 board then try and patent all the things you can make with that 2x4 (or patenting all the angled cuts you can make on that 2x4)... This is very silly.
  • 7 Hide
    vertigo_2000 , October 2, 2009 1:47 PM
    You patent the 2x4 and someone just comes along and patents the 4x2.
  • 2 Hide
    hellwig , October 2, 2009 1:47 PM
    Blessedmanor better eyemaster you patent the 2x4 board then try and patent all the things you can make with that 2x4 (or patenting all the angled cuts you can make on that 2x4)... This is very silly.

    No no no, you don't patent all the things you make with a 2x4, you wait for someone to make something, then you sue them claiming it was covered under your original "organic geometric construction device" patent.
  • 1 Hide
    alvine , October 2, 2009 2:00 PM
    looks like from star trek yo
  • 1 Hide
    digiex , October 2, 2009 2:50 PM
    If they patented touch with finger print recognition then it would be truly a breakthrough. When the tablet or device is stolen it will be unusable since it will only respond to the owner's fingers.
  • 0 Hide
    Major7up , October 2, 2009 3:02 PM
    regardless of the silliness (or not) of the patent it is interesting to think about what Apple might have up it's sleeve.
  • 1 Hide
    r3t4rd , October 2, 2009 3:18 PM
    This hasl already been patented. Tom Cruise uses it to access his computer to help him get murderers. Silly Apple...always patenting someones inventions.
  • 0 Hide
    tester24 , October 2, 2009 3:26 PM
    Now you can give your tablet a high five... or low five depending on where it's placed :) 
  • 0 Hide
    njkid3 , October 2, 2009 3:54 PM
    gmcbootThe patents system isn't stupid, but it is being abused by corporations that want to own and control EVERYTHING! Apple may not develop anything like this, but their patent will make sure no one else does either unless they pay apple. In my opinion, you shouldn't be able to patent ANYTHING unless you can show either working prototype, otherwise you are patenting an idea. An idea that someone else may have at the same time and may be further ahead of you. It shouldn't be who got to the lawyers office first.One of the reasons I hate apple is because they try to act so benign while being the worst offenders of stifling any creativity not their own. BTW I am patenting air and you all owe me 19 trillion dollars. I do not take small denomination bills or gift cards.


    well here is the big and most important problem with apple they dont share even if you want to pay them. thus you get the big kid in the sandbox problem. also it is indicative of them wanting to run the world. and if i might add FIGHT THE POWER.
  • 0 Hide
    Manos , October 2, 2009 4:14 PM
    major7upregardless of the silliness (or not) of the patent it is interesting to think about what Apple might have up it's sleeve.


    Specially since its Apple that have it is why im worried about actually..
  • 0 Hide
    dannyaa , October 2, 2009 4:52 PM
    This looks awesome. A multi touch screen that can accurately tell which finger or part of your hand you have on the device. Imagine resting your wrists without hitting a button. Certain buttons or gestures only working with certain fingers.

    Very cool.

    The patent system for the tech world would work better if it only gave 1.5 year exclusivity. Why shouldn't Apple be rewarded for developing it first? But anymore than 1.5 years is an eternity in the techworld. 9 years is crazy.
  • 0 Hide
    wildwell , October 2, 2009 5:02 PM
    Apparently nobody here remembers, but both Apple and Microsoft began their empires by taking credit for other companies' innovations. Just ask a Xerox shareholder from the early '80s.
  • -2 Hide
    tmike , October 3, 2009 3:22 AM
    No invention stands alone. Without equivalent prior art, this is new. The assertion that it is merely "better software" is invalid, as this is new end-user functionality; that this functionality is implemented in software has no bearing (in the U.S., at any rate - per the Supreme Court. the idea is that whether implemented as software or hardware, the resulting object is essentially the same when taken as a whole).

    The 2x4 comparison leads nowhere as a 2x4 is not a "new and novel invention" (and never was), and because existing touch software is not simply "multipled", as an earlier poster described it - that is, multitouch functionality is not simply 10 or 12 instances of a single-touch implementation (and, even if it were, the end result is the patentable object, not the implementation).

    (As an aside re: wildwell's comment, as everyone else knows Xerox was compensated for and assisted with Apple's efforts.)

  • 0 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , October 4, 2009 2:13 PM
    Keyboard on a touch screen maybe?

    We just got a Motorola M35C EDA at work. One option is a keyboard on the tiny lcd screen. Have to use a stylus because the darn keyboard is so small.
  • 0 Hide
    acecombat , October 4, 2009 8:08 PM
    Toms Hardwareunprecedented integration of typing, resting, pointing, scrolling, 3D manipulation, and handwriting into a versatile, ergonomic computer input device.

    I hope the patent gets rejected...This type of patent only screws everyone up with vague wording, as the above quote could be applied to pretty much any touchscreen interface that exists already!