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iPhone's Pinch-to-Zoom Feature May be Replaced by Sensor

By - Source: AppleInsider | B 23 comments

Auto-zoom feature would be based on facial proximity.

According to new patents filed by Apple with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, the company is looking to replace the iPhone's pinch-to-zoom feature.

The feature that would replace pinch-to-zoom would utilize a sensor to determine the proximity of a user's face. It'll then automatically zoom and focus on what is being displayed on the screen.

The patent says the new invention would offer two modes, comfort and zoom, that provides users with a viewing experience without the requirement of touching their iPhone screen.

Apple's technology would make use of either a camera, infrared proximity sensor or SONAR sensor in order to detect how close the user's face is to the display. Calibration would require the user to hold the iPhone at various distances while it obtained data to determine the suitable display scale size.

The patent explains that the technology could use facial recognition software to establish a more accurate distance. Once the test data has been stored, the iPhone would be able to accurately provide comfort and readability to the user based on the mode they selected.

Comfort mode is designed to "maintain the visual content at a comfortable size for the user regardless of how far the display is from the user's face." The content displayed on the screen would shrink as the user's face comes closer to the device, with the screen being enlarged as the screen moves further away from the user's face.

Zoom, meanwhile, operates in the opposite fashion by providing "a convenient way to zoom in and out of visual content." When utilizing the zoom mode, when the screen is moved closer the content visibility increases. Said content would decrease in size as it is moved further away from user's face.


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  • 23 Hide
    ikyung , November 19, 2012 3:34 AM
    They will release it, then 99% of iPad users will disable it then it will be forgotten until another company improves upon the feature and gets sued by Apple.
  • 20 Hide
    dishayu , November 19, 2012 3:31 AM
    Good bye, battery life.
  • 16 Hide
    alidan , November 19, 2012 3:13 AM
    wow... sounds like a massive mistake if there is no way to turn it off.
Other Comments
  • 16 Hide
    alidan , November 19, 2012 3:13 AM
    wow... sounds like a massive mistake if there is no way to turn it off.
  • 20 Hide
    dishayu , November 19, 2012 3:31 AM
    Good bye, battery life.
  • 23 Hide
    ikyung , November 19, 2012 3:34 AM
    They will release it, then 99% of iPad users will disable it then it will be forgotten until another company improves upon the feature and gets sued by Apple.
  • 6 Hide
    vaughn2k , November 19, 2012 3:36 AM
    "the technology could use facial recognition software to establish a more accurate distance..."
    They'd be sued by Micosoft when using this technology... What els Apple?
  • 5 Hide
    idono , November 19, 2012 3:45 AM
    How can this even be patented. They are just retrofitting a face recognition system.
  • 4 Hide
    jldevoy , November 19, 2012 4:16 AM
    How well would this function with people over 40 who start to struggle to read things close up?
  • 1 Hide
    alidan , November 19, 2012 4:19 AM
    jldevoyHow well would this function with people over 40 who start to struggle to read things close up?


    im thinking its something like this. it measures eye distance, and through averages, makes it so the zoom is what most people would find comfortable at that distance, and instead of getting bigger the close you get, the more of the page is shown.

    i honestly dont thing that either zoom for closer or zoom for further away are good methods, think this will fail before it even takes off, and will be a cool tech demo more than anything else.
  • 2 Hide
    L0tus , November 19, 2012 4:41 AM
    Imagine the level of toolness one would achieve thrusting their phones back and forth from their face XD
  • 0 Hide
    aicom , November 19, 2012 4:56 AM
    This just shows how far Apple has fallen, and how far they have left to fall. Jobs' Apple made products, not gimmicks.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 19, 2012 5:03 AM
    Very bad idea. Just because someone gets closer to the device, does not necessarily means that they want to perform zoom in or out of the content. Looks like Apple does lose its creativity with bad ideas running amok in the company pretending to be new innovative ideas.

    A much better idea is to detect the movement of the fingers without requiring the finger to touching the surface, which will avoid the oily finger print issue. Of course, to make it viable instead of accidentally detecting unintentional movement, there should be a small distance the fingers need to be from the surface, and there should be onscreen feedback to indicate what gesture is being detected. This approach, is already partially done in Samsung Galaxy Note 2, except currently it still requires the use of a stylus.
  • 0 Hide
    pacomac , November 19, 2012 5:24 AM
    I really fails to believe Apple is stupid enough to patent a system like this. Someone writing this article has made a big leap of faith attaching such a system to pinch and zoom. It could be used to ensure the image on display is always retina for the viewing distance but it can't replace pinch and zoom!
  • 3 Hide
    unimatrixzero , November 19, 2012 5:32 AM
    Forget about looking at your iPad or iPhone while you walk or shifting positions while sitting. You'll end up getting dizzy with the screen zooming and un-zooming.
  • 0 Hide
    abbadon_34 , November 19, 2012 6:03 AM
    I'm sure they'll convince every its "Better" and the "best" amoth NOOBS ,and non-techs
  • 0 Hide
    darkavenger123 , November 19, 2012 7:18 AM
    The whole idea is to patent anything now or future that even remotely resembles it. Soon they'll sue Microsoft for Kinect because Apple "invent" it first (as usual). Sueing is where Apple makes the biggest profits!!
  • -1 Hide
    zybch , November 19, 2012 9:57 AM
    Ug, what a dreadful idea. This is why they need someone like Jobs (whos main contribution was to say "no" to many many stupid things).
  • 0 Hide
    wemakeourfuture , November 19, 2012 10:41 AM
    idonoHow can this even be patented. They are just retrofitting a face recognition system.


    Face recognition system just detects faces. That alone does NOT cover every single type of application for face recognition. This patent provides a very particular action when analysing the face. It zooms in when detecting the face in certain context. A typical race recognition system does not do this at all, its just hardware and software that has detected a face and does not apply any action to it.
  • 2 Hide
    wemakeourfuture , November 19, 2012 10:42 AM
    darkavenger123The whole idea is to patent anything now or future that even remotely resembles it. Soon they'll sue Microsoft for Kinect because Apple "invent" it first (as usual). Sueing is where Apple makes the biggest profits!!


    Very little of their revenue and profit comes from litigation...
  • -1 Hide
    blakbird24 , November 19, 2012 11:48 AM
    Well that's a dumb idea. This one falls under the "grasping at straws" category. Is it really possible for a company to fall apart this fast because of the loss of one man?

    Kinda looks that way. Sad.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 19, 2012 12:47 PM
    At first I was going to throw more gas on this fire of hate but I got to thinking; the ideas isn't as bad as it sounds. If you think about it this conforms naturally to how people read. If they want to zoom in they get closer to the screen; zoom out they pull back. I can't think of any operation on a mobile phone that would break that convention. I do think the problem here would be how practical it would be to switch from "Comfort" mode to "zoom" mode, and that is where I think they should not bother; zoom mode should be pinch zoom and comfort mode should be face zoom. But on the face of it; no pun intended; it sounds like an interesting ideas. At least to test out.
  • 0 Hide
    halcyon , November 19, 2012 1:16 PM
    This seems neat and it does seem worthy of a patent. I would imagine the feature could be disengaged and the normal pinch-to-zoom utilized for those that prefer that. Normally, when Apple does introduce features they work well so this could be popular for those that are interested. ...and I think they should allow customers to fine tune it to their personal preferences.

    We shall see.
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