Apple was awarded a patent on Tuesday for a hover sensitive device that accepts input from finger movements above the device's display. The patent describes the usage of "real-world" gestures to control a device equipped with a touch or hover-sensitive display. Hand and finger movements include knock to inquire gestures, circle to select gestures, X to delete gestures and more. Besides performing operations, these gestures could identify users and restrict access to sensitive files, directories and applications.
Filed in 2007, the patent presents this idea as a way to expand the functionality of a touchscreen display by incorporating an advanced set of gestures that are easy for users to perform. This technology would be incorporated into a computer system with a touch sensor panel that includes hover detecting capability and a proximity sensor. Details within the patent do not reveal whether this computing system is a traditional desktop computer, a touchscreen-enabled MacBook or a computer-powered kiosk.
A similar patent for using a hover-enabled surface on a portable device (such as the iPhone) was also filed in early 2007 and uncovered in 2008. As with many patents, the ideas contained within the document may never come to fruition. They may simply be added to Apple's arsenal of patents and set aside as a defense to be used in future litigation.