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
85 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
85 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

airpods pro black background

AirPods Pro 2: Five New Features and Improvements to Expect

Sunday August 14, 2022 3:28 pm PDT by
Apple's second-generation AirPods Pro are finally nearing launch, with a release expected later this year. If you are considering upgrading to the new AirPods Pro once they are released, keep reading for a list of five new features to expect. In addition to all-new features, the second-generation AirPods Pro will likely adopt some features added to the standard AirPods last year. H2 Chip ...
10th Generation iPad Render

10th-Generation iPad With Major Design Changes Reportedly in Production Ahead of September Launch

Monday August 15, 2022 8:02 pm PDT by
Apple's rumored 10th-generation iPad is currently in production and will feature "major" design changes, according to a report from Taiwanese website DigiTimes. A mockup of the potential 10th-generation iPad design by Renders By Shailesh The report did not provide any specific details about the 10th-generation iPad's new design, but rumors suggest the device will feature a larger 10.5-inch...
ios 16 lock screen feature2

Apple Seeds Sixth Betas of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Monday August 15, 2022 10:04 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the sixth betas of upcoming iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 updates to developers for testing purposes, with the updates coming a week after Apple released the fifth developer betas. Registered developers can download the iOS and iPadOS 16 profiles from the Apple Developer Center, and once installed, the betas will be available over the air. iOS 16 introduces a revamped Lock...
iPhone 14 Dummies 1 Feature

Everything Rumored for Apple's September Event: iPhone 14, Apple Watch Pro and More

Friday August 12, 2022 2:34 pm PDT by
There's just about a month to go until Apple holds its annual September event focusing on new iPhone and Apple Watch models. We thought we'd take a quick look at everything that's rumored for Apple's September event to give MacRumors readers a rundown on what to expect when the first fall event rolls around. iPhone 14 The iPhone 14 can probably be described more as an "iPhone 13S" because...
apple watch se

Apple Watch SE vs. Apple Watch Series 8: New Features to Expect If You've Waited to Upgrade

Monday August 15, 2022 2:44 am PDT by
The Apple Watch SE was announced in September 2020 and has been a popular Apple Watch model for customers looking for their first smartwatch or an affordable Apple Watch. Apple Watch SE customers may be wondering, however, what's in store for them with the upcoming Apple Watch Series 8 and what new features they can expect. Continue reading to find out. Apple Watch SE vs. Apple Watch Series ...
Apple Watch Series 3 v 8 1

Apple Watch Series 3 vs. Apple Watch Series 8: 20 Major New Features and Changes for Customers Upgrading

Tuesday August 16, 2022 6:52 am PDT by
It's crazy to think about, but next month will mark five years since Apple announced the Apple Watch Series 3. Despite being a severely antiquated smartwatch, the Series 3 has remained at the bottom of Apple's lineup for $199. Suppose you're still holding on to your Apple Watch Series 3. In that case, this article will list all the major new features and changes you'll get if you decide to...
iPhone 14 Pro Lineup Feature Purple

Apple Planning to Hold iPhone 14 Event on September 7

Wednesday August 17, 2022 9:51 am PDT by
Apple is aiming to hold its first fall event on Wednesday, September 7, reports Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The event will focus on the iPhone 14 models and the Apple Watch Series 8. The standard iPhone 14 models are expected to get few changes, but the iPhone 14 Pro models will include updated camera technology, the removal of the notch in favor of a pill-shaped and hole-punch cutout, an A16...