Apple envisions multitouch gestures on blank screens

By , Mar 26, 2013

iPad finger touching

Apple Tuesday was granted an intriguing multitouch patent with a wrinkle: no screen display necessary. Instead of glancing down at your iPod during a workout to adjust the volume or skip past an annoying track, you simply touch the screen. The patent, first filed in 2009, opens up a number of potential benefits, including extending battery life.

Rather than your iPod nano’s screen displaying controls such as sliders, Apple envisions devices accepting multitouch user input even when a screen itself is blank. Not only would this open the potential for eliminating hardware controls, but the technology may also become part of everyday devices ranging from your iPhone, iWatch or even iGlasses, should Apple decide to compete with Google…

Apple describes its U.S. Patent No. 8,407,623 filing:

To allow a user to control media playback using a touch sensing device without requiring the selection of displayed options, the electronic device can include a mode or configuration for which the touch sensing device can sense touch events, but not display any content on display.

For example, an electronic device with a touch screen can have a mode in which no content is displayed on the touch screen (e.g., the touch screen remains dark), but the touch screen is operative to detect touch events of the user.

Among the potential multitouch gestures: a single tap could pause or play a song and a clockwise circle could increase volume. Although controls won’t initially display, an “overlay” connected to specific gestures may appear. In one reported example, a gesture to increase or lower the volume may prompt a volume slider to appear.

Apple patent 8407623 (drawing 004)Apple patent 8407623 (drawing 002)

While the advantage of an always active touchscreen is clear for users, the technology could also assist Apple as it branches out into other devices and looks for ways to provide competitive pricing, such as low-cost handsets or marketing to emerging markets.

By making the touchscreen both a display and input device, the company could further reduce the size of products, as well as reducing cost by eliminating rocker switches and related hardware.

Apple patent 8407623 (drawing 003)

Additionally, as competitors enter new sectors – ranging from wristwatches to televisions to augmented reality – the advantage of smaller inputs requiring little or no interruptions becomes clear.

Lastly, even if Apple simply puts this technology on a shelf, it offers potential revenue via licensing and perhaps even legal firepower against competitors.

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  • Kurt

    Which company wants to put multitouch on the back of the device? That’s what I’m looking forward to

    • Hyr3m

      Yeah but case-makers are not going to like it… Although they could still leave a “window” on the back to allow you to make your gestures…

      That and it would prolly be an additional drain on the battery, not to mention you’d basically always be interacting with the back when you’re holding the device in your hands… hence triggering functions unintentionally… Maybe using the side instead of the back… for volume and maybe begin/end or page up/down or whatnot…

      • Kurt

        I can’t remember which company has the patent, but I want it. As long as I can turn it off if I don’t like it. Btw, I subbed to infowars on youtube. interesting stuff. Seems up your alley, am I right, or am I right?

      • RarestName

        PSVita, I believe.

      • Hyr3m

        Yeah… Alex Jones is right on the money for some things but oblivious to other aspects… I like to vary my sources ^^

      • Kurt

        Good man

      • Kurt


        Have you seen this? Pretty shocking coming from a meteorologist explaining the cause of the problems he is seeing in the radar.

      • Hyr3m

        Yeah I’ve seen that one a while ago. You’ll want to watch “What in the world are they spraying” and then the second, more recent “Why in the world are they spraying”. Very interesting and scary stuff; nothing anyone with a bit of common sense couldn’t have realized though. They’re already poisoning our food and water; doing the same with our soil and air is the next logical step and they’ve been doing tests since the 50’s and also during the Vietnam war.

      • Kurt

        Yeah, I’ll definitely watch them. I saw some videos with people recommending them. How is it over in Europe? Here in Korea, I don’t think I ever saw them.

      • Hyr3m

        We get them on a weekly basis… sometimes they won’t do any for 2 weeks and then spray for 4 or 5 days like crazy, covering the whole sky. I have dozens of pictures… it’s really depressing.

      • Kurt

        Thanks for the link. The solar radiation management lines up with everything that’s been said before, with the addition of Russia. I watched “What in the world are they spraying” I was shocked how this is in the open being talked about, yet they are already doing it. And the levels of aluminum, barium being found all over the place is staggering. I then watched “Why in the world are they spraying” but it was so boring that I feel asleep. I’ll give it another try when I have some coffee in hand 😉 It has very good information so I should watch the whole thing. I’m gonna rewatch “What in the world are they spraying” with my wife. It’s hard to believe that these are just condensation trails because they should happen all over the world if lasting for hours is perfectly normal. And they don’t happen here in Korea, and no one is saying they are spraying chemicals here. So that is proof for me.

      • Hyr3m

        They did it openly in China for the Olympics opening and closing ceremony to prevent precipitations…

        It it were at least consistent… they say you need certain conditions for contrails to become persistent but it happens “randomly” at any time of the year “anywhere” in the world and some planes’ trails stay and some others’ don’t…

        They’re bullshitting us, no question about it ^^

      • Hyr3m

        Alright… they’ve deleted my comment because of a link…

        There’s a lot of them over Switzerland… at least weekly and if not then they’ll spray continuously for 4 or 5 days… turning a windless blue sky to grey in a matter of hours…

        I just stumbled upon something which I linked to here but it got my comment deleted so just google “Geoengineering projects around the world” and open the guardian’s link… Creepy !

    • David Villamizar

      PS vita?

  • Mysteroy3k

    These are the same counts for the headphones mic, when playing music

  • Hyr3m

    Yet another example of Apple patenting already existing features and claiming them as being theirs…

    • Tr1pTr0p

      Exactly what I wanted to say. Apple is only slightly adapting an existing idea, hence, this patent should not be awarded to them.

      • Guest

        Its not an existing idea… Check the patent link.. It was first filed in 2009… Awarded in 2013…

    • Ignacio Irigoyen

      Sorry but this patent was applyed on 2009 and the z10 is new. Just saying

    • felixtaf

      Hope you dint read the whole post… Patent was filed in 2009 and Z10 was released in 2013 with that feature…. Nothing here to claim (Its Apple’s idea, if the patent was filed in 2009).. Also, If BB has a patent before Apple, Apple cant claim and wont be awarded the patent…

      • Tr1pTr0p

        In that case, Apple has every right to own the patent. Thank you for pointing this out.

      • felixtaf

        Thats what this article saying and check the USPTO link.. It says everything including date of filing…

      • Tr1pTr0p

        Well, looks like I missed that important detail.

      • Hyr3m

        Blackberry might have patented their version too and if the feature comes out now they might have filed it long ago and potentially before apple… (since Apple hasn’t implemented it yet and only got the patent granted…)

      • felixtaf

        I strongly disagree. Blackberry has that feature doesnt mean its patented. Also, if BB has a patent reg that, Apple will not be awarded patent… And you cant estimate the time reqd to award a patent, so cant guess that BB has a patent before or after Apple. Since Apple has this patent, we can assume that BB doesnt have a patent reg that! Coz, patent s unique!

      • Hyr3m

        You _might_ have noticed that all said was that it’s possible : “might have patented” & “might have filed [the patent] long ago”.

        You can strongly disagree with the fact that there is at least a chance that what I said is true. You can also assume that both features having one trait in common they are therefore identical and that makes it impossible BB to have a patent on a feature they have indeed implemented on a device that’s physically real and for which they might get sued if it is indeed identical to Apple’s patent.

        Whatever you can get your head around…

  • David Villamizar

    How are this gestures multitouch?

    • felixtaf

      Article is not pointing out all the gestures… See the USPTO link in the article for more info….

      • Guest

        thanks =D

      • felixtaf

        Click the link and search for multi… I got 50 hits and some of them expalins about that (but not pointing to a specific function). Also, I never read the whole article either…

      • David Villamizar

        I found every gesture listed in the UTPO file is in the article, there are no multitouch gestures at all.

  • sambuzzlight

    this would be so awesome if implemented asap. I always listen to music on the go .

  • Hyr3m

    I prefer physical buttons on the side like on my Bold 9900… I keep skipping songs and changing the volume through the pocket of my suit in which the phone sits on it’s side with the buttons pointing down and the earphone plug pointing up ^^

    (yeah, fuck remotes, I have 200$ headphones ^^)

    • Hamdi Himself

      You may understand that some brands have a different perception of their devices, apple has always pushed people to show (off) their handsets.

  • Severino Trotta

    That’s nothing new… Some years ago I found a tweak for the iPhone called Music Controls Pro. It brought exactly these gestures (except of the volume gestures) to the iPhone EVEN WITH DISPLAY OFF!
    It was not useful or anything. With display off, my music in the “best” situations suddenly began to play, while my iphone was in my pocket.
    The controls on the lockscreen with display on make much more sense; it’s just more comfortable to double tap for next song, than to first double tap home and then hitting the tiny button for the next song.