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Apple Researching 'Physics Metaphor' Gestures for Inter-Device Communication

As noted by Patently Apple, a newly-published patent application from Apple reveals an interesting take on the idea of using metaphorical gestures to share data between devices.

Building upon file transfer mechanisms found in such iOS apps as Bump that allow users to exchange contact information, photos, and other data between devices in close proximity, Apple proposes a number of gestures such as "pouring" and "vacuuming" that could add some additional visual interest to the mundane process of data transfer.


One example presented in the patent application demonstrates how a user could "pour" a set of files to transfer them from an iPhone-like device to a tablet device similar to the iPad. Files displayed on the iPhone's screen could animate the pouring process by appearing to respond to gravity as the iPhone is tipped, and files could behave in differing manners to provide more visual interest, such as by having larger files appear to be heavier than smaller ones and thus moving more slowly in the pouring process.

Apple describes other gestures to initiate the actual file transfer, such as tapping on the device as it is tipped for pouring or requiring a flick or other gesture to overcome a "speedbump" or other barrier and set the files moving to the other device.

Finally, Apple describes how devices could sense their relative locations within a room and allow users to simply flick data toward another device or to make sweeping gestures to broadcast the data to multiple devices in a general direction.

As always, Apple's patent applications should be read primarily for their basic interest and as a view into what Apple's engineers may be thinking about. Many of the ideas discussed in Apple's patent applications never make it to release, especially in those cases where the applications have made it through the lengthy waiting period to publication without the features having already been released.

Tag: patent


Top Rated Comments

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99 months ago
This seems like something that would be cool for five minutes and then be annoying.
Rating: 15 Votes
99 months ago
Just why? :confused:

That doesn't seem to improve usability. Just seems like a dumb phone trick.
Rating: 11 Votes
99 months ago
Not hugely different from the 'tap to share' on WebOS?
Rating: 8 Votes
99 months ago
Might I show you the metaphorical gesture I might make, when I accidentally drop my iPhone on my iPad when it slips out of my hand?
Rating: 8 Votes
99 months ago
So like what webOS does with the Pre and TouchPad, but with more eye candy animations?
Rating: 7 Votes
99 months ago
I saw a Microsoft Surface do something like this when a mobile device was placed on the..well..surface. I like the idea though.
Rating: 7 Votes
99 months ago

Apple engineers are having too much fun with their idevices. I just hope that they put just as much effort innovating new mac features. As much as I like using my iphone, I spend way more time on my mac.


New gesture, if you shake the iMac up and down it erases all files like an etch-a-sketch ;)

haha different engineers between the two.
Rating: 6 Votes
99 months ago
Wait. So clients and account execs will literally DUMP work on me and my Mac... great :rolleyes:

Lets call this one iShat :eek:
Rating: 4 Votes
99 months ago

Since this is explicitly supposed to be simulating real-life physics, I will point out that heavy objects don't fall any faster than light objects.

EDIT: Oh, I see: it's that heavy objects "slide" more slowly. Never mind.


I was going to say the exact same thing. The physics nerd in me was very upset for a moment.
Rating: 3 Votes
99 months ago
here comes a new round of BEER apps :rolleyes:
Rating: 3 Votes

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