Dimensionality

In multi-touch news, Apple has just been granted a patent for a devices that use an interesting arrays of sensors:

The touch sensing device also includes a plurality of independent and spatially distinct mutual capacitive sensing nodes set up in a non two dimensional array.

At first reading the invention seems to be about varying the number of sources of capacitance compared with various numbers of sensors. I think the interesting bit is mention of a “non two dimensional array.” If two dimensions is out, there are few other options. Zero- and one-dimensional arrays are unlikely. If Apple planned to make arrays with a number of dimensions above three, they would need a few more patents to cover the technology.

So Apple patents a three dimensional touch interface device… That’s more interesting. As I’ve posted before, that means if the interface device is away from the display device (for reasons of ergonomics or scale – ‘Minority Report’-style), you will be able to get feedback of where your fingers are hovering above the device you are about to touch. Take a look at my post on a user-interface convention using this feature on current applications: ‘not quite direct manipulation.’

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