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Patent to lock: key elements of multi-touch technology, XGrid, iCal and more [atualizado]

Who doesn't remember Steve Jobs' landscape face, in January 2007, when presenting the first iPhone's multi-touch technology saying "Boy, have we patented it!"? Well, here is three proofs that this was not just Jobsian bravado. The first document, submitted for approval in late 2006, entitled ?Portable Electronic Device with Multi-Touch Input? and basically describes the general lines of operation of a portable device with a touchscreen.

Multi-touch patents - Patently Apple

A second invention (?Ellipse fitting for multi-touch surfaces?), from the beginning of 2007, describes several devices and methods for tracking multiple fingers and palm contact points simultaneously, as they approach, slide over and touch a surface sensitive to multiple touches and proximity. In addition, the invention deals with a system for detecting discrete hand and finger positions for different purposes on the multi-touch surface, and it also deals with methods for minimizing the amount of electrodes needed to make such uses possible.

Finally, the third invention (?Simultaneous Sensing Arrangement?), also from 2007, takes care of the technical part, addressing how the implementation of multi-touch can be done in hardware, expanding the possibilities of its application to much more than portable devices, something that we already see concretized in the multi-touch trackpads of all current Ma notebooks, but that could expand to address even more products.

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Other patents highlighted today address a number of Apple products and technologies, including parental controls for text entry (in order to allow or disallow information based on pre-established conditions), the general operation of iCal on Mac OS X and XGrid, a Mac OS X Server tool for distributing tasks across multiple machines.

Text entry patent and XGrid - Patently Apple

ICal patent - Patently Apple

In addition, design patents referring to the Aluminum Wireless Keyboard, the universal dock adapter, the iPhone 3G dock and many other inventions were also won today, in a total of 18 documents published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

(via Patently Apple: 1, 2)


Innocent minds, mine and the Patently Apple: one of the patents briefly described above, more specifically the one that would enable parental controls for text entry on iOS, was very well captured by iSmashPhone as a ?system anti-sexting?. To put it better: with a technology like this, parents of teenagers could avoid sending spicy messages, something that has become a growing concern in the United States.

Another very clear and educational application is to make the operating system check the spelling and grammar of written texts, in order to prevent communication using codes such as Miguxs and 1337 or even require the user to correctly use words from a foreign language, in this case of a teenager who is studying languages.

And, of course, what counts for parents and children can also apply to employers and employees or students and teachers, especially now that iPads and iPhones are increasingly popular in the job market and in universities.