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Apple patent details signet system

Apple patent details signet system

The diagrams in the patent show an old-model iMac - which many are seeing as proof of an up-coming touch-screen model.

A new patent from Apple lends weight to recent rumours that the company is looking to bring an innovative touch screen system to the iMac.

As reported over on AppleInsider, the patent - "Shape Detecting Input Device" by Apple's Peter Kennedy - details the use of a touch screen to recognise the shape of objects held against it and execute certain tasks accordingly.

The general principle is this: if the object you touch to the screen matches the shape of an object the system knows about, it will perform a predefined action. The example given in the patent is the use of a physical key - literally the sort you would use to open a door lock - being used to gain access to a restricted system. Fans of Green Lantern could even use the technology unlock their comic book collection via their power ring.

Kennedy sees the technology being used to "allow different authorisation levels," offering advantages "in environments where the computer system is shared by multiple users, such as in education environments." The patent envisions a world where "each user [has] their own personal signet [shape-recognised object]. The user simply has to present his/her ring to the touch screen in order to place the computer in his/her preferred configuration."

While the patent deals exclusively with the design and implementation of the shape detecting technology, much of the tech world is more excited by the fact that the diagrams in the application indicate an iMac - lending weight to rumours reported on DigiTimes that the company is looking to add a new 22" iMac with touch screen before the end of the year. While it's not beyond the realms of possibility, the iMac used in the patent is an old model - thus suggesting that it exists purely as an indication of how the technology could be used, not how it will be used. With Apple - like many companies - often speculatively applying for patents for technologies that they never implement commercially, there's no guarantee that your next system will use a signet-based access system at all.

Do you think that shape recognition is the way forward, or should companies work more on webcam-based facial recognition if they want to provide an easy way to customise an OS for multiple users? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

20 Comments

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proxess 26th February 2010, 10:47 Quote
Touch is getting old... when will we see floating screens?
RichCreedy 26th February 2010, 10:51 Quote
and doesnt using fiducials do the same thing, is their patent legal?
mclean007 26th February 2010, 11:24 Quote
Pointless. I'm not going to hold a key up to my screen to get access to the computer - why not just have a smartcard or (heaven forbid) typing a password? Holding up a physical key is clumsy, and how secure will it be? I can't believe it has the sensor resolution to distinguish a great deal of detail, so wouldn't any similar shaped key be recognised as the same?

Also, scratched screens, anyone?
B1GBUD 26th February 2010, 11:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mclean007
Pointless. I'm not going to hold a key up to my screen to get access to the computer - why not just have a smartcard or (heaven forbid) typing a password? Holding up a physical key is clumsy, and how secure will it be? I can't believe it has the sensor resolution to distinguish a great deal of detail, so wouldn't any similar shaped key be recognised as the same?

Also, scratched screens, anyone?

Exactly what I thought.
scawp 26th February 2010, 11:40 Quote
So in future to "hack" into someones account all I need is a piece of cardboard and a pair of scissors?
cgthomas 26th February 2010, 12:52 Quote
Ok.. This comment is not related to it.…
but when are u guys planning topost something about Nvidia's set release date.
Published on Monday on their facebook page, the GTX 4xx will be released 26th March
theskirrid 26th February 2010, 14:44 Quote
I'd guess they're fairly busy testing all the DX11 capable hardware already available.. They've only had 6 months to test and review the whole 5xxx series of cards, probably a bit behind.
cgthomas 26th February 2010, 14:46 Quote
I actually meant that bit tech haven't posted anything regarding the release date announcement
cyrilthefish 26th February 2010, 15:25 Quote
Is it just me, or does anyone else cringe whenever 'apple' and 'patent' is mentioned in the same sentence?

My initial thought was: "what ideas/technologies are they trying to lock down this time?"

I think i'm getting a little paranoid
TWeaK 26th February 2010, 16:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by cyrilthefish
Is it just me, or does anyone else cringe whenever 'apple' and 'patent' is mentioned in the same sentence?

My initial thought was: "what ideas/technologies are they trying to lock down this time?"

I think i'm getting a little paranoid

+1 and it's not just you...
Cupboard 26th February 2010, 16:48 Quote
I thought the Microsoft table-thing already did that?

And other than that I agree with cyrilthefish and mclean007
flaming_goat 26th February 2010, 17:17 Quote
oh no , i just stabbed my screen with my key!
thehippoz 26th February 2010, 17:21 Quote
what if they gave you a glove with different shapes on the fingertips.. then you could be like micheal jackson.. apple users will bend over backwards for this
RichCreedy 27th February 2010, 00:15 Quote
anyone interested in touchscreen tech ( possibly building your own) look here , its has a good community following, and helpful peeps, and some open source software to help you bring it to life.
Furymouse 27th February 2010, 00:40 Quote
Will it recognize my middle finger ( or two fingers for my british brethren ) when I flip it off as it crashes?
TSR2 27th February 2010, 15:06 Quote
22" touchscreen iMac?
£££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££££
Jenny_Y8S 27th February 2010, 21:57 Quote
I saw that illustration years ago, there is nothing new here!
kylew 28th February 2010, 08:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by scawp
So in future to "hack" into someone's account all I need is a piece of cardboard and a pair of scissors?


"Crack" don't you mean?
dec 28th February 2010, 14:02 Quote
reminds me of fingerprint readers. good on paper and good in practice....when they work.

But you cant use cardboard and scissors to make a fingerprint so -1 to the idiot who thought of this.
Pete J 28th February 2010, 21:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by cyrilthefish
Is it just me, or does anyone else cringe whenever 'apple' and 'patent' is mentioned in the same sentence?

My initial thought was: "what ideas/technologies are they trying to lock down this time?"

I think i'm getting a little paranoid

First thought I had as well! Well, maybe the second, the first was:

'Oh it's Apple, I'm bored already'.

I saw this kind of thing demonstrated by HP about 3-4 years ago. I'm sure they'll have something to say.
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