Apple, apparently seeking increasingly-unique ways for people to interact with hardware, was recently awarded a patent for “hover sensitive” input with devices. Admittedly, the patent was filed in 2007 as part of a batch that preceded the original iPhone’s introduction, so this could be yet another patent that never sees the light of day as a real product.
AppleInsider said the patent “describes a method for detecting and interpreting real-world gestures on ‘touch and hover sensitive devices.’ Examples of real-world gestures include ‘OK gestures,’ ‘grasp everything gestures,’ ‘stamp of approval gestures,’ ‘X to delete gestures,’ and even ‘hitchhiker directional gestures.’”
The web site also quoted from the patent: “Although capacitive touch sensor panels can detect objects hovering within the near-field of the panel, and appear to be ‘weak’ touches, in some embodiments proximity sensor panels can be co-located with touch sensor panels to provide hover detection capabilities outside the near-field hover detection capabilities of capacitive touch sensor panels. These proximity sensor panels can be arranged as an array of proximity sensors that can be scanned in a manner similar to the scanning of a touch sensor panel to generate an ‘image’ of hover.”