For a company like Apple that prides itself on its innovation, patent filing is almost second nature. The company has made a habit of patenting cutting edge technologies that might define the future.
It did that again on Tuesday when it patented the “touchless touchscreen”.
Touchless screen? What is that?
It’s essentially a type of proximity sensor. It lets you interact with your touchscreen without actually touching the surface. That means no more smudgy screens, no more smears of ketchup on your phone because your mom called while you were at KFC.
This also means that we can expect gesture-based input devices from Apple in the future. It will be interesting to see how that will play out, because right now Apple is aggressively promoting 3-D Touch (or Force Touch) which is the exact opposite of gesture inputs!
The patent, which can be viewed on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website, describes the technology as “the no-touch, close proximity hovering of fingers or other objects above a touch-sensitive surface but outside the near-field detection capabilities of touch sensors.”
Wow. Sounds swanky!
We know! But it doesn’t look that cool on paper. According to the application file, this is what Apple has patented:
The diagram shows the use of an LED and photodiode to detect a finger’s presences without surface contact.
Such Science. Much Amaze!
Of course, for the layman, all it means is a cool new technology. In everyday use, this could translate into using gestures to turn off a display screen, power down, quit applications and change screen brightness.
Awesome! When can we expect it in our phones?
Hold on to your horses, friends! It’s only a patent, so there’s no defining when it’ll be out. Also there’s no mention of a product alongside this patent, so even if it does come out, there’s no knowing which device will feature it.
For now, all we can do is wait. In the meantime, we can enjoy all the awesome technology we already have. We can also hope that Apple continues to push the boundaries of technology like this, because we absolutely love it!