Apple patent application details new hovering capabilities for future iOS displays

“It was about a year ago when we first learned of Apple’s initial work on smart bezels that could one day apply to future versions of the iPad and/or other devices,” Jack Purcher reports for Patently Apple.

“As is the case with most cyclical research, ideas have a natural ebb and flow to them. In today’s report you’ll learn a little more about the smart bezel’s advancements via hovering technology and about a new idea to make iOS displays a little more touch sensitive – if that’s even possible,” Purcher reports. “The good news is that Apple has taken some of the initial technology and thinking that was behind their smart bezel project and first applied it to other devices such as the Magic Mouse and Magic Trackpad. So now that we know that touch technology can go beyond mere displays, the idea of it applying to a future iPad bezel isn’t as farfetched as it may have been just a year ago. Such is the nature of progress.”

Purcher reports, “In this particular patent [application], Apple sets out to improve capacitive touch and hover sensing. A capacitive sensor array could be driven with electrical signals, such as alternating current (AC) signals, to generate electric fields that extend outward from the sensor array through a touch surface to detect a touch on the touch surface or an object hovering over the touch surface of a touch screen device, for example.”

More info and Apple’s patent application illustrations in the full article here.


  1. With a combination of multitouch and hover sensing, I could see a UI in which interface elements could be virtually peeled off the screen. The element could be enlarged to correspond to the distance of the user’s fingers from the screen giving the apearance of depth. Hmmm… Peel UI.

  2. A smart bezel has always made sense, though you’d want a tiny off button just to have an option of shutting it off if you want to. Multitouch could also go on the back of the ipad too. So this could get interesting if Apple eases this in and doesn’t overwhelm us. I think they’d balance pretty good to start with. I’m game.

  3. When will we see this, 2030? We can’t even get a few extra multi-touch gestures.

    It’s looking at patents like these that filled my head with grand ideas on where Apple would take multi-touch. Low and behold we’re still stuck in the 2007 pinch-to-zoom era.

  4. Some patents come true quicker than others. The ping patent surfaced today showing Apple was ahead of the published patent. On others it will take time. Yet others, are experimental down the line. They’re interesting to discuss and the hovering patent, the gestures are really like the magic mouse. They’re not claiming anything fancier. Though like the article suggests, Apple could add some gaming actions which would be appreciated. my 2cents.

  5. Does this mean the iPad will allow us to be deatomized and beamed to another destination where we would be reatomized (“Beam me up, hottie!”)? Just wondering. Airline tickets are pretty expensive, you know.

  6. This would be great for painting and drawing apps, you could feather the brush strokes.  Also in music apps, you could have weighted keys, and strumming controls with strings.  Game controls would be great.  You could have controls outside the viewing area, and sensitive ones. This could shut up a lot of the “serous” gamers.

    One of the complaints about Flash from Steve Jobs was that touch screens did not have hover, and a lot of Flash apps use mouse hover.  This could solve that problem. This could get Adobie off it’s ass and create a efficient mobile flash that does all of Flash.  Something that can’t be done now.  Apple has said that they would allow Flash if it could be power efficient and not effect other apps.  

  7. Given the array of patents Apple seems to be filing on tablet technologies, I don’t get why other manufacturers and Google Android are able to produce what are essentially clones of the iPad. Is Apple not enforcing the patents or are they so specific as to be irrelevant?

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.