Apple's Gesture Dictionary [PATENT]

7 Aug 2007 - 3:17pm
6 years ago
4 replies
759 reads
Will Parker
2007

On Aug 7, 2007, at 6:13 AM, pauric wrote:

> Lisa/Jack: 'can actually you patent a language? Isnt this a patent
> for a dictionary?'
>
> Yup and yup, but there's more than one way to skin a cat. This
> patent would seem to make it difficult for users to learn an
> alternative language if it comes with a non-infringing but hokey
> dictionary design.

Once again, please tell me how this patent limit the development of a
robust, open pattern language for gestures? Although Apple clearly
has certain gestures picked out for early adoption, these are not the
meat of the patent, which describes a series of designs "merely" for
the presentation and maintenance of gesture preferences.

> My argument is that while we sit here on verge of a new interaction
> paradigm, we can go segmented & closed or with a universal language &
> differentiate on good design.

I think that gestures are in the same state as keyboard shortcuts in
the mid-80s. Everyone has a different approach, and no one is willing
to settling on The One True Pattern just yet. It'll come down to
which gesture set is used on the device(s) that gain market dominance.

Actually, strike that.

The core of the first universal gesture language will be the _default
set_ provided by the OS for the first popular general-use computer
equipped with multi-touch. That core set will be enshrined as a
formal standard much, much later. Not a chance in hell that the
International Interaction Design Cabal is going to get a chance to
define a standard early in the game (more's the pity).

> I believe the entity that defines the first universally adopted
> language will reap greater rewards in the long term.

Should we _really_ get into that whole emacs/vi thing? };->

> Let me turn your question around. We are going to have a
> multitouch gesture language for the foreseeable future. How does a
> closed language benefit Apple?

It doesn't, and the patent doesn't suggest anything of the sort.
Quite the reverse, as it indicates Apple intends to provide quite
robust support for user-defined gestures and gesture strings.

BTW, one thing we as interaction designers need to nail down early on
-- if it hasn't already been done by some previous master of the art
-- is the language to describe the individual aspects of gestures and
of gesture sequences.

The language in the Apple patent that sparked this thread leans
heavily on musical terms, but is this in fact the best way of framing
discussion of gestures? Are there _other_ commonly-understood domain
vocabularies that could be adapted as a "handier" set of conceptual
tools?

- Will

Will Parker
wparker at ChannelingDesign.com

“I wish developing great products was as easy as writing a check. If
that were the case, then Microsoft would have great products.” -
Steve Jobs

Comments

7 Aug 2007 - 3:28pm
SemanticWill
2007

FYI -

I actually did follow up with a Intellectual Property/Patent Attorney this
afternoon. [IF], the patent application, or patent, is in the public domain
- meaning if it was submitted to the USPTO and available for everyone to see
- we can read, discuss, blog about it until the cows come home and lay eggs.
This is exactly why you all have no doubt read the substantive description -
with images - on the Engadget
<http://www.engadget.com/2007/08/02/apple-patent-attack-the-multi-touch-gesture-dictionary/>website,
without Engadget needing to worry about legal jeopardy.

~ Will

-------------------------------------
n: will evans
t: A Multi-Touch Gesture Architect
-------------------------------------

On 8/7/07, Will Parker <wparker at channelingdesign.com> wrote:
>
> On Aug 7, 2007, at 6:13 AM, pauric wrote:
>
> > Lisa/Jack: 'can actually you patent a language? Isnt this a patent
> > for a dictionary?'
> >
> > Yup and yup, but there's more than one way to skin a cat. This
> > patent would seem to make it difficult for users to learn an
> > alternative language if it comes with a non-infringing but hokey
> > dictionary design.
>
> Once again, please tell me how this patent limit the development of a
> robust, open pattern language for gestures? Although Apple clearly
> has certain gestures picked out for early adoption, these are not the
> meat of the patent, which describes a series of designs "merely" for
> the presentation and maintenance of gesture preferences.
>
> > My argument is that while we sit here on verge of a new interaction
> > paradigm, we can go segmented & closed or with a universal language &
> > differentiate on good design.
>
> I think that gestures are in the same state as keyboard shortcuts in
> the mid-80s. Everyone has a different approach, and no one is willing
> to settling on The One True Pattern just yet. It'll come down to
> which gesture set is used on the device(s) that gain market dominance.
>
> Actually, strike that.
>
> The core of the first universal gesture language will be the _default
> set_ provided by the OS for the first popular general-use computer
> equipped with multi-touch. That core set will be enshrined as a
> formal standard much, much later. Not a chance in hell that the
> International Interaction Design Cabal is going to get a chance to
> define a standard early in the game (more's the pity).
>
> > I believe the entity that defines the first universally adopted
> > language will reap greater rewards in the long term.
>
> Should we _really_ get into that whole emacs/vi thing? };->
>
> > Let me turn your question around. We are going to have a
> > multitouch gesture language for the foreseeable future. How does a
> > closed language benefit Apple?
>
> It doesn't, and the patent doesn't suggest anything of the sort.
> Quite the reverse, as it indicates Apple intends to provide quite
> robust support for user-defined gestures and gesture strings.
>
> BTW, one thing we as interaction designers need to nail down early on
> -- if it hasn't already been done by some previous master of the art
> -- is the language to describe the individual aspects of gestures and
> of gesture sequences.
>
> The language in the Apple patent that sparked this thread leans
> heavily on musical terms, but is this in fact the best way of framing
> discussion of gestures? Are there _other_ commonly-understood domain
> vocabularies that could be adapted as a "handier" set of conceptual
> tools?
>
> - Will
>
> Will Parker
> wparker at ChannelingDesign.com
>
> "I wish developing great products was as easy as writing a check. If
> that were the case, then Microsoft would have great products." -
> Steve Jobs
>
>
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>

7 Aug 2007 - 3:29pm
Mark Schraad
2006

>From the readings I have done recently, it appears that a patent like this one basically deals with the 'long tail' of potential entries into the market. Those would be start up companies that could not possibly, or would not be willing to buck p the million dollars needed just to begin defending or attacking an existing patent.

This is why patent laws desperately need reworking. The current legal system all but excludes the entrepreneur from innovation. They simply can't afford to defend their ideas even if they are legitimately new and unique.

Mark

On Tuesday, August 07, 2007, at 04:18PM, "Will Parker" <wparker at channelingdesign.com> wrote:
>On Aug 7, 2007, at 6:13 AM, pauric wrote:
>
>> Lisa/Jack: 'can actually you patent a language? Isnt this a patent
>> for a dictionary?'
>>
>> Yup and yup, but there's more than one way to skin a cat. This
>> patent would seem to make it difficult for users to learn an
>> alternative language if it comes with a non-infringing but hokey
>> dictionary design.
>
>Once again, please tell me how this patent limit the development of a
>robust, open pattern language for gestures? Although Apple clearly
>has certain gestures picked out for early adoption, these are not the
>meat of the patent, which describes a series of designs "merely" for
>the presentation and maintenance of gesture preferences.
>
>> My argument is that while we sit here on verge of a new interaction
>> paradigm, we can go segmented & closed or with a universal language &
>> differentiate on good design.
>
>I think that gestures are in the same state as keyboard shortcuts in
>the mid-80s. Everyone has a different approach, and no one is willing
>to settling on The One True Pattern just yet. It'll come down to
>which gesture set is used on the device(s) that gain market dominance.
>
>Actually, strike that.
>
>The core of the first universal gesture language will be the _default
>set_ provided by the OS for the first popular general-use computer
>equipped with multi-touch. That core set will be enshrined as a
>formal standard much, much later. Not a chance in hell that the
>International Interaction Design Cabal is going to get a chance to
>define a standard early in the game (more's the pity).
>
>> I believe the entity that defines the first universally adopted
>> language will reap greater rewards in the long term.
>
>Should we _really_ get into that whole emacs/vi thing? };->
>
>> Let me turn your question around. We are going to have a
>> multitouch gesture language for the foreseeable future. How does a
>> closed language benefit Apple?
>
>It doesn't, and the patent doesn't suggest anything of the sort.
>Quite the reverse, as it indicates Apple intends to provide quite
>robust support for user-defined gestures and gesture strings.
>
>BTW, one thing we as interaction designers need to nail down early on
>-- if it hasn't already been done by some previous master of the art
>-- is the language to describe the individual aspects of gestures and
>of gesture sequences.
>
>The language in the Apple patent that sparked this thread leans
>heavily on musical terms, but is this in fact the best way of framing
>discussion of gestures? Are there _other_ commonly-understood domain
>vocabularies that could be adapted as a "handier" set of conceptual
>tools?
>
>- Will
>
>Will Parker
>wparker at ChannelingDesign.com
>
>?I wish developing great products was as easy as writing a check. If
>that were the case, then Microsoft would have great products.? -
>Steve Jobs

7 Aug 2007 - 3:50pm
.pauric
2006

Will "Once again, please tell me how this patent limit the development of a
robust, open pattern language for gestures?"

Ok, again, I didnt say this would limit an open standard, I said its
an opportunity lost. An open standard will come and imho that will
eventually rule the day. This could gain better adoption as an open
standard, not a intellectual property stake in the ground.

Will " Apple intends to provide quite robust support for user-defined
gestures and gesture strings."

Yes, and as I read the intent behind patenting a dictionary... the
'support' of the language, they are aiming to make it difficult for
other vendors to build similar dictionaries, rendering those languages
less usable via poorer support mechanisms. That could potentially
force designers to build limited gestural languages, ones that dont
need a full blown dictionary. Therefor Apple's expansive gestural
language, as defined in the dictionary, is protected - to a degree.

Will Evans: 'if the patent is in the public domain we can read it'
I think you may have spoken with a copyright specialist. The issue
here is that if any of us are working in this domain, in parallel with
the discussed Apple design, then it could be proven at a later date
that by reading the Apple patent we were influenced by and willingly
re-used their I.P.

take care -p

7 Aug 2007 - 4:28pm
Morten Hjerde
2007

> This could gain better adoption as an open
> standard, not a intellectual property stake in the ground.
>

Guys and gals, please understand: This is a BAD THING.

There is no intellectual property stake in the ground here. Apple has not
done any inventing in the area of gestures and touchscreens, so they can not
claim any patent there. The Apple patent lawyers tries to be clever and
circumvent that by claiming a patent for a "dictionary application" that
cover all of the following and a lot more:

A computer or phone providing feedback when recognising a pattern - be it
audible or visual etc.
A computer or phone showing a pattern to the user - basically any mechanism
for learning a pattern from the computer itself.

As far as I understand, if this patent is granted, any form of feedback from
recognizing a pattern could be said to be in violation of the patent.

--
Morten Hjerde
http://sender11.typepad.com

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