Apple Inc. has filed for a patent application for the idea of UI controls that change according to user-controlled movement. Called "Varying User Interface Element Based on Movement," the ideas in the patent filing suggest that Apple is thinking about having items like scroll bars or buttons change according to how they are being used by the user.
Unlike the patent application on movement-based controls covered by iPodObserver.com earlier on Thursday, this patent application appears geared more towards gaining protection for the specific methods being used, rather the broader idea of doing it in the first place.
The abstract for the patent describes, "Movement of a user interface element that includes first and second pattern layers is detected. While the user interface element is moving, a first pattern layer is translated relative to a second pattern layer."
In other words, the company would use different layers in the GUI that change, and thus appear different to the user, based on way they are being moved. For instance, a scroll bar that somehow indicates the direction it is being moved, as indicated in the patent application image below.
An image from Apple's patent application offering examples of scroll bar movement
In the description, the company offered more details: "In general, one aspect of the subject matter described in this specification can be embodied in methods that include the actions of detecting movement of a user interface element including first and second pattern layers, and while the user interface element is moving, translating a first pattern layer relative to a second pattern layer."
As pointed out by The Register UK, who first spotted the patent filing, much of the patent application focuses on scroll bars, but the patent also mentions, "windows, buttons, scroll bars, icons, sliders, tabs, toolbars, and so on."
Apple filed for the patent on October 1st 2007, and it was first published today, April 2nd, 2009.