Apple has been granted a number of new patents by the US Patent and Trademark Office. Among the most interesting patents in the latest batch is one detailing important innovations in user interaction with Apple products.
It’s another patent related to the multi-touch technology that Apple has been working on. Essentially, the system enables the detection of multiple user inputs over one sensor surface, with this latest patent also hinting at the possibility of a virtual keyboard generated by “proximity sensors” that could allow the user to “trigger functions without actually making contact with the touch panel.”
According to AppleInsider, the technology described in the patent would also allow for hover-sensing input, with a touchscreen able to use infrared LEDs and photodiodes to detect fingers’ distances from the touchscreening, triggering certain events and responses as the user interacts with virtual buttons and other inputs projected beyond the touchscreen.
The intellectual property highlights Apple’s focus on advancing the user interfaces of its products, building on the 3D Touch system the company integrated into its most recent mobile devices. Still, it could take time for these latest technological innovations to find their way into new products, so it isn’t yet clear if hover-based interaction will be available on something like the iPhone 7, for example.