In a patent published this week, Apple demonstrates a way for touch screens to recognize different types of surfaces (fingertips, fingernails or even gloves) and to react differently to each one. According to the invention, the software could perform one action when the user touches the screen with his finger, and another when the nail is used.
In addition to this patent, documents were also published regarding a way to generate narration of menu items in gadgets, making the conversion of text to speech with the aid of a computer in my view, precisely the way VoiceOver works on iPods. Designs such as the magnetic closure of MacBooks and two more elements of iMacs have also been recorded, in addition to the audio processing technology in Final Cut Pro.
Now for the upcoming Christmas shuffle.
A patent published in August describes the operation of menus on iPod shuffle 3G, demonstrating the button press system and the actions invoked by each standard. So far, nothing much: we all know how to control the little notable using the controls on Apple headphones.
The thing gets hot when parts of the patent text reveal other applications of the invention: it appears that, in addition to a physical button remotely connected to the controlled gadget, a resistive or capacitive sensor could be used, which could also be integrated into the device. Did you think of ?capacitive screen?? thymus. Add to that the mention of controls executed with swipes and we?ll have an iPod shuffle 4G ready for the market.
Above: mysterious 3x3cm screen found with Apple branding.
right: mockup iPod shuffle with screen.
Instead of having boats, the new shuffle could have a capacitive screen (would it be a good size 3×3 cm?) That would make your entire face a huge button. Instead of being limited to the remote control of the headphones, the new shuffle could also be controlled from this screen, but using the same system: one touch to stop / resume playback, hold to access VoiceOver menus, two rings to advance, three rings to come back. Slide your finger in one direction to increase the volume, and in the other to reduce it like a radio. Didn't like the idea, because a shuffle isn't always ?upside down?? Ok: slide two fingers on the screen to increase the volume, slide one finger to decrease, whatever makes sense.
This has everything to do with the general context of iPod shuffle: the issue of using third-party headphones is solved, the small gadget can display album art, it grows a little, but all the additional space must be converted into drums. If the screen uses colored eink or something like Mirasol technology, we still get a brutal savings in energy consumption. How about a shuffle with 24 hours of autonomy? Me gusta mucho!
Patents already exist, now we just need to know if someone is as crazy as I am to put such a product on the street. The invention describes actions that definitely do not relate to an iPod shuffle (check emails, SMS, etc.), but I believe that this in the CYA pass to the control system can be used on iPhones, say, or even to prevent other companies to use the interface described in multi-purpose devices.
Anyway, what did you think of these ideas for the next shuffle?
(via Patently Apple: 1, 2)