Apple buys 18 ‘axis-based user interface’ patents from Maya-Systems

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This is kind of interesting. Maya-Systems, which describes itself as a knowledge management technology provider, announced today that a transaction took place between it and Apple in the third quarter of last year. It seems the Cupertino company acquired 18 patents from them “relating to innovative axis-based user interface technology.”

MacRumors points to Maya-Systems’ press release:

“In the third quarter of 2012, a transaction took place between Maya-Systems Inc. and Apple Inc. (, through which Apple acquired a portion of Maya-Systems’ patents relating to innovative axis-based user interface technology. The acquisition included 18 patent properties of Maya-Systems.

“We dealt with a significant number of sophisticated buyers,” noted Mathieu Audet, founder of Maya-Systems and patent agent. “We are pleased to have secured the transaction with Apple.” “Our patents have been analyzed thoroughly by many potential buyers. We are confident that they are strong assets.” The negotiations with Apple were carried out with the assistance of Mr. Louis Carbonneau from Tangible IP LLC”

Maya-Systems Inc. was founded in 2002, and is based out of Montreal, Canada. Its flagship product is IamOrganized, a productivity platform that utilizes the ‘axes-based interface’ technology Apple just purchased.

Unlike folder trees based on file location, axes group files by subject (any attribute, really) and display them along a timeline. Scroll an axis to view more files. Zoom in. Zoom out. Navigate swiftly between projects by displaying several axes on your screen. Attribute-based, orderly and relational, axes give users a meaningful and integrated view of their files.”

And here’s a clip of IamOrganized in action:

It’s unclear at this time what Apple intends to do with the technology. But a number of ideas come to mind: revamped file system for a future OS X release or better media management for apps like iPhoto and Aperture. Or, more likely, Apple could be using it to help build out iCloud and its capabilities.

What do you think?