Apple Patent Reveals Sweeping Coverage of Multitouch Gestures

Apple has filed for a U.S. Patent on a wide range of methods for using a device with a touch screen display. The patent relates to one or more finger contacts and a corresponding heuristic to determine the desired command to be processed.

The patent was filed on September 5, 2007 and posted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on May 29th. Inventors are listed as Steven P. Jobs, Scott Forstall and about two dozen others.

The patent apparently seeks to extend the simple set of commands now used on the iPhnone and iPod touch to include finger gestures that command, for example,

  • Transitioning from a set of items to the next item
  • Transitioning from displaying an item to a previous item in a set
  • Displaying a keyboard primarily of letters (or numbers)
  • A command to show a heads up display
  • A 90 degrees rotation command
  • Reorder a list
  • A zoom command by a predetermned amount
  • GPS instructions
  • Configuration of peripherals

There are many more details in the sweeping patent filing that seems to translate every GUI interaction we use on standard Macs into a finger gesture on a touch screen device -- plus a few more specific to and enabled by a touch screen device.

Having patents on these gestures will likely come in handy not only for protecting Appleis investment in the current iPhone and iPod touch, but for possible future products, such as the often rumored tablet or slate Mac. Some day, Mac users may all be using slates with the classic mechanical keyboard and mouse a thing of the past if this patent is a sign of things to come.