XM's Touchscreen Patent Application
Tags: 2, XM
As demand for smaller and smaller devices rises, it's become increasingly apparent that the buttons and knobs needed to control these devices are getting in the way.
Valuable real estate is eaten up, and without those pesky buttons the devices could be thinner, smaller and sexier. That's where the beauty of touchscreen interfaces come into play, the layout of the "keys" can be dynamically changed to match different actions.
Unfortunately touchscreens have an inherit problem: there's no tactile feedback. So navigating without your eyes focused on the device (afterall, you should be looking at the road while you're driving) will cause annoying mistakes.
But what if the "keys" weren't based on a location on the touchscreen? What if they were based on something could instantly feel? Something like... your fingers themselves.
Enter XM Satellite Radio's finger-sensitive touchscreen patent application.
This concept creates the ability for "data input using finger or fingerprint recognition." Instead of mapping different locations on the touchscreen to different functions, it maps the functions themselves to your fingers. It's an amazingly revolutionary concept, and one I think would be very easy to get the hang of (after a little bit of practice).
To illustrate what this patent entails, here's an artfully drawn image from the application itself.
In Figure 5, each of the fingers on the right hand are mapped to channel numbers. So if you wanted to type in "202" you would tap once with your index finger, twice with your pinky, and once again with the index finger. In Figure 5, your thumb is the mute button, your index finger is the menu button, and the remaining fingers are different channel presets. This can be further refined as multiple fingers can be mapped to different functions.
But what if your wife uses the car as well? Hey no problem, the interface will recognize her fingers as being unique from yours, and will map the controls to her liking. Different fingers, different menu items.
The possibilities are pretty unlimited. Now you can have that thinner, smaller and sexier touchscreen device - and you can navigate your way around the dial anywhere on the screen - all without taking your eyes off the road.
Sign me up.
[Patent Application #20060284853 (PDF)]