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Apple’s Latest Patent: The Hitchhiker Gesture

It’s no secret Apple is looking for ways to better integrate multi-touch gestures into iOS devices and the Mac platform: the latest iOS 4.3 beta allows developers to set up “multitasking gestures” (which won’t ship with the final version of 4.3) and OS X Lion will make extensive use of gestures as well through the Launchpad and full-screen apps. Clearly, and we all know this, Apple is shifting user interaction with a computing device from pointing to touching.

That said, the latest gesturing patent Apple has been awarded left us kind of surprised initially. As reported by Patently Apple, Apple has patented as series of “real world and security” gestures for touch and hover-sensitive devices. While we’d leave the hover-sensitive design to geek dreams for the next decade (imagine interacting with a device without even touching it, like this), the new gestures surfaced in the patent are surely original. Among them, a “hitchhiker” gesture for scrolling, panning, windowing and general directional input.

The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 13 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. Some of the notables within this group include the iPhone’s Wireless Communications Circuitry, the technology behind the MacBook and Magic Trackpads including haptics and haptels – and lastly a major win for gesturing. The gesturing patent interestingly relates to the iPad and/or larger surfaces including future “hover” surfaces where real-world gestures could be introduced.

Apple has been granted a major patent relating to detecting and interpreting Real World and Security Gestures on touch and hover-sensitive devices. Some of the gestures presented in Apple’s patent have yet to surface on their iPad. Gestures such as shape gestures, identity gestures or an odd one dubbed the “hitchhiker” relating to directional gestures. There’s also an “Okay” gesture and more. Whether Apple will introduce any of these new gestures into a future iPad is yet unknown.

Another graphic illustrating the “shape gestures” has been embedded below. While we think the promise of more gestures for all devices is exciting (although we really don’t think the iPhone is a good idea), would also like to see Apple experimenting with touch-sensitive bezels for the next iteration of the iOS platform.

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