Apple eyes hover gestures as multi-touch alternative

Posted by Trent Nouveau

A recently issued Apple patent indicates that Cupertino is seriously considering the development of "hover sensitive" technology to supplement touch-enabled products.

The patent - spotted by AppleInsider - describes a method for the detection and interpretation of real-world gestures on "touch and hover sensitive devices."

Examples include "OK gestures," "grasp everything," "stamp of approval," "X to delete," and the rather strange "hitchhiker directional."

As expected, gestures made over hover sensitive devices would include those that multi-touch only products are currently incapable of detecting.

However, it should be noted that capacitive touch sensors are already (somewhat) able to detect close hovering - occasionally registering such gestures as a "weak" touch.

As such, the addition of proximity sensors is likely to significantly improve both the range and resolution of hover detection.

"Although capacitive touch sensor panels can detect objects hovering within the near-field of the panel, and appear to be 'weak' touches, in some embodiments proximity sensor panels can be co-located with touch sensor panels to provide hover detection capabilities outside the near-field hover detection capabilities of capacitive touch sensor panels," reads the patent application.

"These proximity sensor panels can be arranged as an array of proximity sensors that can be scanned in a manner similar to the scanning of a touch sensor panel to generate an 'image' of hover."