The unstoppable Apple patent machine has struck again. This time, the Cupertino-cash-cow has applied for a patent on a new multi-touch “dictionary” which would establish gestures, or “chords” in multi-touch systems. The dictionary would not only provide a guide and somewhat-programmable system of movements, but would also function as an application which runs either on its own or in the background during other applications, allowing gestures to be recognized. It would seem that based on other recent patent requests, Apple is keenly interested in not only defining a new system of input, but owning that system as well, which likely means that the future of the company is going to look a lot lighter in the “key” department — and really, isn’t that what Jobs is after to begin with?

I remember being at Siggraph in Orlando in 1998 at the Alias User Group meeting when they introduced their ‘marking menus’ and I was blown away at the innovative concept of being able to use mouse ‘gestures’. As it is with many things at Siggraph, seeing demos of software makes it all look ’simple’ and time-saving. In practice, I know very few people who use marking menus in Maya. Their implementation is simply a different, and more complicated, way of making menu selections. IMO, Apple’s ideas take this to the next level. They’re trying to get rid of the mouse and menu systems and replace them with something truly more useful and elegant. Hopefully in practice, it will be more usable than ‘marking menus’.

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