The United States Patent and Trademark Office today published a patent filed by Apple last March, which details how inline proximity sensors could be used in tandem with a touchscreen display to detect non-contact hover gestures (via AppleInsider).

The patent, titled "Proximity and multi-touch sensor detection and demodulation", reveals how photodiodes or other proximity hardware work in parallel with traditional multitouch displays to extend user interaction beyond the screen surface.

One embodiment of the patent describes a capacitive sensing element, using a range of proximity sensors and an LCD display, that would let users deploy gestures above a traditional keyboard, resulting in a "virtual keyboard".

Apple hover-sensing patent
With multiple proximity arrays deployed on every touch sensor or pixel of the panel, the system can detect a finger, palm or other object hovering over the display surface. The detected motion is then translated to a GUI by which users can "push" virtual buttons, trigger functions without physical touch, toggle power to devices and more.

Various configurations of the technology are outlined in the patent, including one which describes a MacBook featuring assistive hover-sensing displays that augment typing and trackpad input.

As with any filed patent, the technology is unlikely to appear in any product soon, if at all, especially given that Apple only recently introduced 3D Touch support and is still actively encouraging app developers to make more use of the feature.

Apple has expressed interest in non-contact user interfacing and motion control for some time. In 2013, for example, the company acquired PrimeSense, the firm responsible for the original technology used by Microsoft for its Kinect platform.

Tag: patent

Top Rated Comments

LovingTeddy Avatar
78 months ago
WOW...Apple so innovative, Android has to copy that from Apple years ago. I still remember my Moto X react and display notifications when I hoving my hand and Samsung Air gesture...
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
furi0usbee Avatar
78 months ago
Wake me when they come up with something better than a mouse/keyboard for "actual" computers. As great as the Apple touchpad is, I still bring my mouse and mousepad everywhere I go. I don't want to touch my screen (try hard NOT to touch it, yucky fingerprints), I don't want to hover, I don't want to get exercise while I'm working at the computer. I just want to get things done. Mouse/keyboard is gonna get things done faster than any other input devices other than a direct line into my brain. All gimmicks in my opinion. Same with VR glasses Apple seems to be working on. I remember back in the 90s VR was going to take the world by storm. Yawns.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

Upcoming Products 2022 Feature

Gurman: Apple Preparing 'Widest Array of New Hardware Products in Its History' for Fall

Sunday January 23, 2022 10:32 am PST by
Apple is working on a number of new products that are set to launch this fall, and Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says that it will be "the widest array" of new devices that Apple has introduced in its history. In his latest "Power On" newsletter, Gurman explains that Apple is working on four new flagship iPhones (iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Max, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max), an updated low-end Ma...
macbook pro 14 16 2021

Three Months After Launch, Apple Still Struggling to Meet Demand for Redesigned 14-Inch and 16-Inch MacBook Pro

Monday January 24, 2022 7:12 am PST by
Three months after their launch, the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros continue to experience high demand and seemingly short supply, with shipping dates for both models stretching into multiple weeks in several of Apple's key markets. In the United States, the baseline 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro chip is estimated to ship in three to four weeks, promising an arrival by at least...
General Dropbox Feature

macOS 12.3 Will Include Cloud Storage Changes Affecting Dropbox and OneDrive

Tuesday January 25, 2022 3:31 pm PST by
Dropbox today announced that users who update to macOS 12.3 once that software version becomes available may temporarily encounter issues with opening online-only files in some third-party apps on their Mac. In a support document and an email to customers, Dropbox said it is actively working on full support for online-only files on macOS 12.3 and will begin rolling out an updated version of...
Questionable Design Decisions

Apple's Most Questionable Design Decisions in Recent Memory

Sunday January 23, 2022 2:59 am PST by
Apple has always emphasized the depth of thought that goes into the design of its products. In the foreword to Designed by Apple in California, a photo book released by the company in 2016, Jony Ive explains how Apple strives "to define objects that appear effortless" and "so simple, coherent and inevitable that there could be no rational alternative." But every once in a while even Apple...
Apple Watch Red Yellow Green Feature 1

Apple Launches Black Unity Braided Solo Loop With 'Unity Lights' Watch Face

Wednesday January 26, 2022 6:05 am PST by
Apple today announced the Black Unity Braided Solo Loop for the Apple Watch, as well as a new downloadable watch face, to celebrate Black History Month. Following the launch of the limited edition Black Unity Apple Watch Series 6 and Sport Band in 2021, Apple today launched the Black Unity Braided Solo Loop as part of its celebrations for Black History Month this year.Apple is launching a...
att gigabit internet

AT&T Bringing $180/Month 5-Gigabit Internet to 70 Cities

Monday January 24, 2022 9:20 am PST by
AT&T today announced the launch of upgraded AT&T Fiber plans, which support speeds of up to 5 Gigabits for some customers. There are two separate plans, one "2 GIG" plan and one "5 GIG" plan, available to new and existing AT&T Fiber subscribers. According to AT&T, the new plans are available to nearly 5.2 million customers across 70 metro areas including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, San...
intel vs m1 max chip purple

Benchmarks Confirm Intel's Latest Core i9 Chip Outperforms Apple's M1 Max With Several Caveats

Wednesday January 26, 2022 8:56 am PST by
Benchmark results have started to surface for MSI's new GE76 Raider, one of the first laptops to be powered by Intel's new 12th-generation Core i9 processor. Intel previously said that its new high-end Core i9 processor is faster than Apple's M1 Max chip in the 16-inch MacBook Pro and, as noted by Macworld, early Geekbench 5 results do appear to confirm this claim, but there are several...
ios 15

Apple Releases iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3 With Fix for Safari Bug That Leaks Browsing Activity

Wednesday January 26, 2022 10:00 am PST by
Apple today released iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3, the third major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 15 operating systems that were released in September 2021. iOS and iPadOS 15.3 come almost two weeks after the release of iOS and iPadOS 15.2.1, minor bug fix updates. The iOS 15.3 and iPadOS 15.3 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in ...