Microsoft applies for a number of “3D touch” patents

hover patent

The USPTO has today published a number of patent applications by Microsoft today which focus on 3D touch technology.

The 3 patents involved explains different ways in which the technology would operate, though not exactly how it will function.

The patents involved explains for example that hover touch could be used to automatically display or dismiss a keyboard when user’s fingers are away from the screen, thereby allowing users to easily see their content without it being obscured by their virtual keyboard.

They also describe a technology which would allow a combination of touch and hover to be detected simultaneously, thereby allowing richer interactions.

The abstracts for the 3 patents read:

United States Patent Application 20150082216
Abstract:Example apparatus and methods concern controlling a hover-sensitive input/output interface. One example apparatus includes a proximity detector that detects an object in a hover-space associated with the input/output interface. The apparatus produces characterization data concerning the object. The characterization data may be independent of where in the hover-space the object is located. The apparatus selectively controls the activation, display, and deactivation of user interface elements displayed by the apparatus on the input/output interface as a function of the characterization data and interface state. Selectively controlling the activation, display, and deactivation of the user interface elements includes allocating display space on the input/output interface to the user interface elements when they are needed for an operation on the apparatus and selectively reclaiming space on the input/output interface allocated to the user interface elements when they are not needed for an operation on the apparatus.
United States Patent Application 20150077338

Abstract:Example apparatus and methods concern establishing, managing, or dis-establishing a primary hover-point for a hover-sensitive input/output interface. One example apparatus includes a proximity detector that detects an object in a hover-space associated with the input/output interface. The apparatus produces characterization data concerning the object. The characterization data may identify where the object is located, how the object is moving, what the object is doing, or other attributes of the object. The apparatus may assign a hover point designation to the object as a function of the characterization data. The apparatus selectively controls input actions associated with the object based on the hover point designation. The apparatus may accept input actions associated with a primary hover point and ignore actions associated with a non-primary hover point.

United States Patent Application 20150077345
Abstract:Example apparatus and methods concern processing simultaneous touch and hover actions for a touch-sensitive and hover-sensitive input/output (i/o) interface. One example apparatus includes a touch detector that detects an object that touches the i/o interface. The example apparatus includes a proximity detector that detects an object in a hover-space associated with the i/o interface. The apparatus produces characterization data concerning the touch action and the hover action. The proximity detector and the touch detector may share a set of capacitive sensing nodes. Example apparatus and methods selectively control input/output actions on the i/o interface based on a combination of the touch action(s) and the hover action(s).

The ill-fated McLaren handset was of course rumoured to feature 3D Touch, and Microsoft’s newly rumoured flagship, the Lumia 940, is expected to feature an infra-red camera which can be used both for iris recognition and 3D positioning, so there appears to be a good chance we will see this technology on Windows Phone pretty soon.

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