On Christmas day, the US Patent & Trademark Office slipped a little present under our collective trees: an Apple patent application entitled "Swipe Gestures for Touch Screen Keyboards." Originally filed on June 27, 2007, the application describes "Systems, methods, and devices for interpreting manual swipe gestures as input in …
Doesn't this already exist on the Palm Series of devices. Styli or fingers, it doesn't really matter, pointy motions equal actions have existed "forever" (or at least as long as the HP-50 touch screen terminal).
Surely this is existing tech?
I have a Windows mobile based PDA and in the handwriting recognition input mode I can use swipes to perform tasks such as backspace, return, up and down lines, spaces and other such things. IIRC something similar is possible with mouse gestures in Firefox and other non-Microsoft of Apple based web browsing accoutrements.
I do, however, have a swipe type movement of my middle finger from a downward to an upward position that Apple are welcome to inspect anytime they want.
umm... and this is novel why?
umm... lets see... that looks an AWFUL lot like mouse-gestures applied to touch screen interface. Don't patents have to be non-obvious to someone versed in the art?
Haven't we been using touch-screens as mice for years? Hasn't Opera had mouse gestures for years? Doesn't that make this non-novel?
if they want to limit it to JUST multi-touch, they might have a case.
Don't you just love apple! Swipe gestures, like this was never done by other PDA's and the early Sony Erricson PDA phones, swipe back to delete, tap the screen for a full stop, smiley face ect ect...
Whatever next are apple going to patent the ability to write text on the screen or as apple call is 'Swipe-Writing' a form of writing with your finger on a touchscreen and in order to avoid having to try and 'tap' the tiny iphone keys on a bumpy journey.
Why just delete?
Perhaps a better (?) working method is to use swipe gestures to selectively select with Cut Copy & Paste options rather than merely Select > Delete?
Yup, prior art alright.
In fact, when my wife lets me use her iPod Touch, I constantly find myself attempting to delete PalmOS-style...
USPTO is useless.
What the hell happened to "not obvious" requirement for patents? Fucking useless USPTO and their damn "approve everything and anything" policy. This patent application should have been rejected out of hand.
Prior art seconded... thirded
In fact, before Windows Mobile used this, it was available in a util called "Fitaly" that I used with my WM2003 Pocket Loox. Fitaly rearranged the QWERTY keyboard into a 5x5 grid of letters, where common letters were deliberately close to each other and so quicker to use with a stylus. And - for anything other than basic alphabetics - you had a swipe gesture; each letter in any of 8 directions, IIRC.
But even THEY probably got it off the Palm...
From the mists of time ..
I remember that you could set up your own 'swipes' using the tablet connected to the Calma CAD/CAM system we used for integrated curcuit layout in 1982 ...
And if you can find a copy of "Priniciples of Interactive Computer Graphics" by Newman and Sproul, 2nd edition 1979 - one of the definitive introductory works on the subject - then you'll find a description of an algorithm to process gestures on a tablet.
It's also the book that brought us Bui Tong Phong's teapots.
Many comments here about the validity of the patent.
Surely, to get a doctorate this chap's work will have been unique and "furthered the knowledge of mankind". I downloaded the large PDF and there is some interesting stuff in there (it's quite dated, in the acknowledgements there is reference to scrolling software on OS/2).
If the doctorate is valid, the patent should be as well ?
Just adding to the "prior art": my HTC Hermes, which was in operation well before the iPhone came out, also has swipe controls.
Come to think of it, my previous phone (Ericsony P800) also had them.
What - no fanboys?
...to support Apple in their march to patent the world.
They soon hide away when Apple churn out this sort of crap!
Hm... isn't this the same as that nifty feature my PalmPilot (circa 1996) had where swiping the stylus from the screen to the "graffitti pad" would do some action? Can't remember if it was "go home" or opening the menu bar. But you get my point.
Jolly Roger because it seems Palm is somehow being ripped off a patent...
US PTO broken so ditch it?
The US PTO is abviously broken so is it possible for the sane patent offices (ie. the rest of the world) to just start chucking the US crap as invalid. Sure you wouldn't be able sell your products directly in the US, but there economy is sinking anyways. You could always let someone else grey market your goods in to the US and make a profit that way. If sane countries shun the US for a while (patnet, random wars, blatently ingnoring WTO rules, CO2, torture)even they will understand they have work with the world not try and run it down to their standards.
One word ...
"Graffiti" (as in the handwriting recognition software that used to grace Palm and Handspring PDAs)
@ prior art-ards
You do know that these gestures are largely extensions of those used on Newtons (whose handwriting recognition precedes that of Palm I believe)? Ergo Apple already owns the prior art for these gestures and many are already present in every install of Mac OS X for the Ink handwriting recognition tech. I haven't read the patent but I assume the differentiating factor here is the screen type and detection method (finger based and non-stylus)... but don't let me spoil your rabid kneejerk frothing at the mouth.
@AC re prior art-tards
But the Newton was hardly first either. Have a look at http://users.erols.com/rwservices/biblio.html ...
The points of the other posts are mostly around the stupidity of the US patent system .... who care's if this "new patent" is finger based .... it's not really new just because they've changed the pointing device.
Paris - because even she can think of an alternative pointing device
Prior art and the newton...
Apple could perhaps try to argue that the Palm devices used a dedicated area to decipher the graffiti gestures, but that would be incorrect. The Palm Lifedrive (of which I own an example) can use the entire display.
The Newton was launched in August 1993 preceding the Palm (Pilots 1000 and 5000) by 31 months, the later being launched in March 1996. However, Apple did not submit the patent until 2007, eleven (11) years AFTER Palm's first use of Graffiti and 2 years after the introduction of the Palm LifeDrive (May 05 2005) which, as mentioned earlier, can use the entire display area for input. IMHO (which accounts for nothing really) the time for patenting this is long past and the USPTO needs some serious help.
Re: @ prior art-ards
"Ergo Apple already owns the prior art for these gestures and many are already present in every install of Mac OS X for the Ink handwriting recognition tech."
Interesting observation. Not sure whether Apple owned any patent rights to gestures back then, but if they then it is applicable for invalidating their current patent.
"I haven't read the patent but I assume the differentiating factor here is the screen type and detection method (finger based and non-stylus)."
I took a very quick glance at it. Now I don't work with touch screens, but I saw nothing particularly novel in the patent. I've seen mouse gestures before. If the only difference here is that these work on a new interface, then I suspect that the patent will not hold up in court should it come to that. Instead, like the majority of patents, it will be aggregated into the portfolio and used in such a way that it becomes cheaper to just pay the license then to try and fight the legal battle.
Granted I may be biased, since I find software patents to be unreasonable in principal.
It is absurd that anyone can own mathematically derivable algorithms. I don't even care who was first. It's a silly notion that can only be justified in societies ruled by corporations. These software patents today are not bringing new knowledge to the table as was intended, they are merely being used to stifle competitors.
Prior Art - Finger Friendly Friends
I use this on a daily basis on my HTC phone.
This is a commercial product not included with OS.
Features a DRMWYP keyboard (Designed for fingers - just click anywhere in the area of a button and it works it out from the possible combinations) and allows a swipe from right to left to delete
Website seems down at the moment though :(
Seems unique to me
As a long-standing fan of gestural interfaces and devices, a quick read of this patent leaves me thinking it is pretty specific and unique.
1) It's about swipes in the "virtual keyboard area" compared to all the prior art I can think of being in a general drawing area.
2) The gesture is independent of the start or end area being a specific location. That rules out the IBM Shark and the Palm swipes in or out of the Graffiti areas.
That doesn't mean I agree with this kind of patent being a good thing in general but it reads like Apple have some minor improvements on entry on the iPhone virtual keyboard that they want to lock down with a patent.
Is it the muppets day out?
From the application
"Systems, methods, and devices for interpreting manual swipe gestures"
IT'S A METHOD MORONS
Some dirty chav has just swiped me iPhone!!
Or how about...
Writing all the iPhone apps to respond to the phone being moved into the horizontal, thus increasing the width of the keyboard and the SIZE OF THE KEYS.
Or as my son would say, 'dur' - because it is so obvious. Even with my realtively big fingers I can text on the narrow portrait mode keyboard but it is soooo irritating that neither the mail nor the sms applications will respond to the phone being rotated. That's one fat FAIL for Apple - and from a fan as well...
Paris, coz, well, she can operate in both horizontal and vertical positions ;-)
@ @ prior art-ards
But since you're such a clever-dick, you'll be aware that the original patent on this technology was claimed by Xerox, which is why Palm changed from Graffiti to Graffiti 2 after the Tungsten T.
Anyway, even if Apple did have it first they should have patented it then and there, not waited until the technique turned out to be a commercial success - for you and Apple, please accept the award known as Failtard.
Re: Seems unique to me
I am using Resco keyboard on Windows Mobile which, with the exception of the multi-touch part (WM doesn't support Multi-Touch) is EXACTLY this patent. It's an on-screen keyboard but swiping anywhere on the keyboard counts as a gesture and the action performed can be customised in the settings including space, delete, return etc. (though, annoyingly, not full-stop). I agree that the graffiti thing is "a bit" different, but this system exists exactly elsewhere.
But it's a pointless argument. Apple have, for years, adopted a business model whereby they produce products that are a refinement of existing technology and then, when sued for infringement, either buy the other company or settle out of court. It's a business model that I've always considered bizarrely high-risk but it means they get products on the shelves more quickly than if they went through proper due-diligence so they obviously believe the risk is worth it (and their bottom line seems to confirm they are right and I'm wrong).
Like a patent on bread?
Gestures like that have existed for a very long time. Of course Palm et al. but also Opera and Firefox etc. for moving forward, backward, new tab, close. Think 'all in one gestures' (http://pagesperso-orange.fr/marc.boullet/index.html#vers02), for example. Ridiculous patent on the face of it.
Prior Art: BlackBerry Storm uses up and down swipes to show and hide the keyboard. Isn't this the same thing?
I'd like to patent the forced oscillation of electrons and controlling their flow via logic gates of some kind, please.
"Apple have, for years, adopted a business model whereby they produce products that are a refinement of existing technology and then, when sued for infringement, either buy the other company or settle out of court. It's a business model that I've always considered bizarrely high-risk but it means they get products on the shelves more quickly than if they went through proper due-diligence so they obviously believe the risk is worth it (and their bottom line seems to confirm they are right and I'm wrong)."
Oh really? Links to proof?
LOTS of prior art
And I suspect high end CAD software from a *number* of vendors have had the ability to use system touch screens for some years; they do not CARE if you use a mouse or a fingertip.
Patenting the obvious?
Using the motion of your finger to indicate what you want to do on a touch screen device. How novel.
Mine's the one with the--argh! Where's my coat? It's been iSwiped(tm)!