July 24, 2006

On the heels of rumors of a full-screen video iPod (see Good Morning Silicon Valley Article below), an application published last week may have revealed a new feature on upcoming iPod models. U.S. Patent Application Serial No. 11/240,788, entitled “Proximity detector in handheld device,” was published on July 20th and discloses several methods “for initiating floating controls on an electronic device.” According to the application, the invention relates to and includes methods for “detecting the presence of an object above and spaced away from a surface of the electronic device” that may be an “improved input means” above and beyond known input devices like “buttons, switches, keyboards, mice, trackballs, touch pads, joy sticks, touch screens and the like.” The first claim of the patent is a method “for initiating floating controls on an electronic device” that comprises “detecting the presence of an object above and spaced away from a surface of the electronic device” and “displaying a particular graphical user interface element on a display of the electronic device when the object is detected above the surface of the electronic device.” The application also claims a “user interface method, comprising: detecting an object in space; determining a user interface mode when an object is detected in space; and displaying and enabling one or more GUI elements based on the user interface mode” (claim 8). Time will tell if next generation iPods will include this touchless technology.

U.S. Patent Application Serial No. 11/240788: LINK
Apple Insider Article: LINK
Good Morning Silicon Valley Article: LINK


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