The assignee for this patent application is ;
Reporters obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention relates to an apparatus and method for a camera cursor system. More particularly, the present invention relates to an apparatus and method for controlling a cursor on a mobile wireless computer device.
"Mobile terminals are developed to provide wireless communication between users. As technology has advanced, mobile terminals now provide many additional features beyond simple telephone conversation. For example, mobile terminals are now able to provide additional functions such as an alarm, a Short Messaging Service (SMS), a Multimedia Message Service (MMS), E-mail, games, remote control of short range communication, an image capturing function using a mounted digital camera, a multimedia function for providing audio and video content, a scheduling function, and many more. With the plurality of features now provided, a mobile terminal has effectively become a necessity of daily life.
"Mobile terminals as described above may be implemented, for example, as tablets, smartphones, or other mobile wireless computers. They are frequently implemented with a touchscreen feature, that is, a screen that functions both as a visual display and as a touch-sensitive input. Typically, the elements displayed on the touchscreen may be selected, adjusted, opened, dragged to a new location, etc., by touching or tapping an icon or other input, in order to control a corresponding function of the mobile terminal or of an application installed on the mobile terminal. For example, a user may tap on a speaker icon to open an audio volume control function; the audio volume control function may display a slider or scrollbar, which the user may tap to select ('grab' the control), move the finger on the touchscreen ('drag') to set a new audio volume setting; and then the user may lift the finger from the touchscreen to allow the volume control function to close.
"Use of a touchscreen interface as described above has the advantage of being intuitively easy to understand. However, it has several drawbacks as well. For example, the display, particularly the element of the display the user is most interested in, is obscured by the user's finger and not visible during the touch input. For another example, the user must move his finger to whatever location on the screen is appropriate; this may be difficult or impossible for a user who does not have one hand free to hold the mobile terminal while using the other hand for the touch input. Such a user may be driving a car, simultaneously using a mobile phone in a situation where there is no convenient or safe surface to set the mobile terminal on, may not have full use of all fingers and both hands due to an accident or injury, etc.
"FIG. 1 is a front view of a portable terminal according to the related art.
"Referring to FIG. 1, a portable terminal 100 includes a touchscreen interface 110, an optional front-facing camera 120, and an optional one or more keys 130. The camera 120 is used to take pictures of the user or for video conferencing. The touchscreen interface 110 is used both to display output and to sense user inputs. For example, a user may tap and drag an icon to move a displayed object representing an application, double tap the icon to launch the application, use a two-fingered 'pinch' or 'spread' input to change a scale of the display, tap or type on keys of a displayed keyboard, etc. The keys 130 may be used to turn the portable terminal 100 on or off, to awaken the portable terminal 100 if it is in a sleep mode, to adjust a sound volume, etc. If the portable terminal 100 includes audio functions such as a telephone, there may be a speaker output 140 and a microphone input 150 as well.
"FIG. 2 is a rear view of a portable terminal according to the related art.
"Referring to FIG. 2, portable terminal 100 includes a rear-facing camera 210 and an optional flash 220. The rear-facing camera 210 is used for taking higher resolution photographs or video than are taken by the front-facing camera 120. The flash 220 is used when the portable terminal 100 detects a low light situation when taking a photograph.
"The portable terminal 100 of the related art has a user interface requiring particular user inputs, i.e., touching or tapping at the location on an icon, to use. A user will typically need to hold the portable terminal 100 with one hand and tap or touch the touchscreen input with a finger of the other hand, or set the portable terminal 100 down on a surface such as a table top, in order to enter the required inputs.
"There are attempts in the related art to use computer vision techniques to track a moving object, such as the Microsoft Kinect video game accessory. However, such techniques of the related art require a stable light environment, and cannot function in a variable light mobile environment.
"Accordingly, there is a need for an apparatus and method for providing improved user input functionality to handheld devices such as portable terminals."
In addition to obtaining background information on this patent application, VerticalNews editors also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent application: "Aspects of the present invention are to address at least the above-mentioned problems and/or disadvantages and to provide at least the advantages described below. Accordingly, an aspect of the present invention is to provide an apparatus and method for controlling a portable device.
"In accordance with an aspect of the present invention, a method for controlling a portable device is provided. The method includes finding at least one object to be tracked in view of a camera, differentiating motion of the at least one object from changes in camera input other than the at least one object in the camera's view, tracking the motion of the at least one object, and executing a function according to the tracked motion.
"In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, a method for controlling a portable device is provided. The method includes detecting a user's touch of at least one touch input area and controlling a function of the device according to movement of the user's touch on the at least one touch input area, wherein the at least one touch input area is located at a position of a thumb or fingertip of a hand holding the device.
"In accordance with yet another aspect of the present invention, a method for controlling a portable device is provided. The method includes detecting a user's thumb or finger holding the device and locating a position of at least one virtual button at a location of the thumb or finger.
"In accordance with still another aspect of the present invention, a method for controlling a portable device is provided, where the device includes at least one physical or virtual button and at least one camera, touch input area, or joystick. The method includes selecting the at least one physical or virtual button to determine whether the device responds to events detected by the at least one camera, touch input area, or joystick, wherein the at least one physical or virtual button and the at least one camera, touch input area, or joystick are located at a position of a thumb or finger of a hand holding the portable device.
"In accordance with yet another aspect of the present invention, an apparatus for controlling a portable device is provided. The apparatus for controlling the portable device includes a camera, and a controller, for detecting at least one thumb or finger of a user in a frame captured by the camera, for differentiating motion of the at least one finger from changes in pixels other than the thumb or finger in the camera's view, for tracking a motion of the thumb or finger, and for executing a function of the device according to the tracked motion.
"Other aspects, advantages, and salient features of the invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following detailed description, which, taken in conjunction with the annexed drawings, discloses exemplary embodiments of the invention.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
"The above and other aspects, features, and advantages of certain exemplary embodiments of the present invention will be more apparent from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:
"FIG. 1 is a front view of a portable terminal according to the related art;
"FIG. 2 is a rear view of a portable terminal according to the related art;
"FIG. 3 is a block diagram of a portable terminal according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;
"FIG. 4 illustrates a rear view of a portable terminal according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;
"FIG. 5 illustrates an exemplary screen display during a user input to a portable terminal according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;
"FIG. 6 is a flowchart of a method of controlling a portable device according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;
"FIG. 7 illustrates a sample screen display during a user input to a portable terminal according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention; and
"FIGS. 8A and 8B illustrate views of a user input to a portable terminal according to an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.
"Throughout the drawings, it should be noted that like reference numbers are used to depict the same or similar elements, features, and structures."
For more information, see this patent application:
Keywords for this news article include: Patents.
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