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New Patent Outlines Swipe Gestures for Touch Screen Keyboard

MacRumors points us to a new patent application titled Swipe Gestures for Touch Screen Keyboards that was unveiled by the United States Patent Office today.

The patent application gives credit to Wanye Westerman, who along with his partner John Elias were brought onto Apple’s touch technology team after founding Fingerworks. While it may not be widely known, Fingerworks has been largely responsible for developing a lot of Apple’s current touch technology. Apple has financially supported Elias and Westerman’s furthering of the touch tech, and we all know how far they’ve taken it so far.


One possible scenario in which the new swipe gestures would be used, is “on top” of the iPhone’s virtual keyboard. In essence, these new gestures would give users access to certain input elements like “delete” and “enter” via more natural progressions.

For example, erasing and basic punctuation insertion, directional swipes (also referred to herein as “swipe gestures”) over the alphabetic keys can be used as an alternative to striking certain keys. Because the Space and Backspace keys are quite frequently used, they are logical candidates for the rightward and leftward swipes, respectively. Leftward and rightward swipes intuitively match the cursor travel caused by these symbols. Following this cursor movement analogy, the Enter/Return may be invoked by a downward swipe, and a Shift/Caps may be invoked by an upward swipe. Alternatively, as the Enter and Shift functions may be less frequently invoked, these may be substituted for other functions as well. One alternative mapping for the upward swipe, for example, could be to activate an alternative numeric and punctuation keypad or a particular punctuation symbol like an apostrophe or period.


Surely many will take this patent with a bit more of a “conceptual” vibe than usual. As MacRumors notes, this particular patent application is pretty ambitious. Apple’s touch technology is believed to be carried over into future touch interface products, including a Mac tablet or netbook. However, the technology still needs to mature before it can be adopted by the masses for expected and efficient productivity. After all, there’s still no copy-and-paste.

Comments [1]

One Comment to “New Patent Outlines Swipe Gestures for Touch Screen Keyboard”

oodles @ December 25th, 2008 at 7:32 pm
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I’m a big fan of Apple’s aggressive patenting, but when “touch” patents keep showing up before core functionality (MMS/Copy-paste) it’s starts to get frustrating.