In future, you may control your iPhone without even touching it by using gestures over the display. And while that does resemble Samsung’s Airview gestures, Apple has got a new patent titled “Proximity and multi-touch sensor detection and demodulation”, for a tech similar to that, though this patent highlight that the tech could be used for MacBooks as well.
The patent deals with a kind of advanced proximity sensor system which will detect the finger movement near the display of the phone allowing the user to control the device by using hovering gesture. The system involves tiny infrared LEDs and photodiodes.
The LEDs will emit infrared light and photodiodes will detect any light which is bounced back by the finger or any other body part over the device. A computing system then can controls or triggers one or more functions in accordance with an “image” of touch provided by the sensor outputs is disclosed.
The users can also push the virtual buttons appearing on the touch panel and trigger functions without actually requiring contact with the touch panel.
For instance, as the patent mentions,
merely by hovering one’s finger over a proximity sensor, a user can turn the entire touch panel on or off, turn portions of the touch panel on or off, power down a particular subsystem such as a touch subsystem, enable only certain features, dim or brighten the display, etc.”
These proximity sensors can also be used together with the multi-touch panel, offering new ways to interact with the phone in addition to the new 3D force touch which comes with the new iPhone 6S. 3D force touch enables the users to use different intensity of pressure on the screen to perform various functions.
Like current iOS devices, the invention includes in part a capacitive sensing element disposed throughout an LCD display with multiple piggybacked proximity sensors. This hybrid solution provides a more complete “image” of touch inputs by delivering hover gesture detection.
But as I mentioned in the beginning itself, Apple is not the first company to experiment with the gesture-based technology — it is in fact pretty late to the club. Hovering gestures are already being used by Samsung in its Galaxy Note series of smartphones by the name of Airvew, and which are pretty impressive. Also, Microsoft and Nintendo offers gestures and motions in their Xbox Kinect and Wii video-game systems.
As is usually the case with most of the patents, it is not confirmed yet whether we will actually get to see such tech in the near future. But, this one does look one of those patents which can be really implemented in a consumer product. Only time will tell.