News Column

"Method for Operating a Touch Sensitive User Interface" in Patent Application Approval Process

August 21, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Politics & Government Week -- A patent application by the inventors berg, Peter (Vinslov, SE); Klinghult, Gunnar (Lund, SE), filed on August 31, 2011, was made available online on August 7, 2014, according to news reporting originating from Washington, D.C., by VerticalNews correspondents.

This patent application is assigned to Sony Mobile Communications AB.

The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Applications for consumer products, especially gaming applications, are getting more complex. Furthermore, these applications are getting available also on mobile devices, for example mobile phones or mobile gaming devices, as the processing power of these mobile device increases. Today, input methods based on a touch panel input, for example a so-called touch screen comprising a touch sensitive surface, are utilized to recognize two-dimensional inputs. Furthermore, a multi touch recognition is also commonly utilized, for example for recognizing multiple fingers touching the touch sensitive surface at different locations of the touch sensitive surface.

"However, there is a need to provide new input methods adapted to provide more complex input information in a convenient and intuitive way."

In addition to the background information obtained for this patent application, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "According to the present invention, this object is achieved by a method for operating a touch sensitive user interface as defined in claim 1, a touch sensitive user interface as defined in claim 9, and a device as defined in claim 11. The dependent claims define preferred and advantageous embodiments of the invention.

"According to an aspect of the present invention, a method for operating a touch sensitive user interface is provided. The touch sensitive user interface comprises a touch sensitive surface and at least two force sensitive sensors. The touch sensitive surface is configured to provide a touch information indicating touch positions of at least two concurrent touches on the touch sensitive surface. The touches may result from a user touching the touch sensitive surface with their fingers, with a stylus, or with a plurality of styluses. The at least two force sensitive sensors are mounted at the touch sensitive surface at different predetermined locations. Each of the at least two force sensitive sensors is configured to generate a corresponding force information depending on a force being exerted on the corresponding force sensitive sensor. According to the method, the touch positions of the at least two concurrent touches on the touch sensitive surface are determined based on the touch information. Furthermore, the force information from the at least two force sensitive sensors is received and for each of the at least two concurrent touches a corresponding touch force is determined based on the at least two touch positions, the force information from the at least two force sensitive sensors and the predetermined locations of the at least two force sensitive sensors.

"By determining for each of the at least two concurrent touches a corresponding touch force, a new input dimension can be achieved when a user is touching the touch sensitive surface. This new dimension is substantially perpendicular to the touch sensitive surface. Therefore, a three-dimensional input can be accomplished. The force information may be used for example for scrolling in long lists displayed on a display of the touch screen comprising the touch sensitive surface or for zooming a content displayed on the display. When a long list of items is displayed on the display, a scrolling position may be varied based on the force information, for example the items may be scrolled down with an increasing force. When zooming a view on the display, a zoom factor may be varied based on the force information. Furthermore, certain predefined activities may be triggered when the force exceeds a predetermined threshold. For example, a screen lock may be unlocked, or a preview of a picture or a video may be presented, or a pre-listening of an audio file may be output when a symbol representing the picture, video or audio file is pressed with at least a predetermined force. In gaming applications, for example in a car racing gaming application, an analog speed control and an analog brake control may be accomplished by determining touch forces applied by the user to predefined items displayed on the display. Similar analog controls, even more than two, may be used in other gaming applications, for example in wrestling games, football games and so on. The at least two force sensitive sensors may be comprised within one sensor module, sensor system or sensor material adapted to provide at least two force information for two different locations.

"According to an embodiment, the step of determining for each of the at least two concurrent touches a corresponding touch force comprises the following steps. First, a subset of the at least two force sensitive sensors is determined based on the force information and the predetermined locations of the at least two force sensitive sensors. Next, for each of the at least two concurrent touches a corresponding force is determined based on the at least two touch positions, the force information from the force sensitive sensors of the subset, and the predetermined locations of the at least two force sensitive sensors.

"For example, when much more than two force sensitive sensors are provided at the touch sensitive surface, it may be sufficient to take into account only a subset of the force sensitive sensors to determine a touch force for each touch position. For example, only the highest and lowest force values from the plurality of force sensitive sensors may be used. Furthermore, also the position of each touch position may be used to determine the subset of force sensitive sensors to be used for calculating the touch force for each of the touch positions. By taking into account only a subset of the force sensitive sensors, a calculation of the touch forces for each of the touch positions may be simplified.

"According to another embodiment, the touch sensitive surface comprises a capacitive touch sensitive surface. Capacitive touch sensitive surfaces are widely used in consumer products, especially mobile phones, and may be combined with force sensitive sensors. Furthermore, other commonly used input methods may be used, e.g. based on a resistive touch detection or an optical touch detection or an infrared touch detection.

"According to a further embodiment, the touch sensitive surface comprises a display for outputting visual information on the touch sensitive surface. Thus, the touch sensitive surface constitutes together with the display a so-called touch screen on which items or controls may be displayed to be touched by a user.

"According to an embodiment, the force sensitive sensors comprise compression force sensitive sensors arranged to detect a force substantially perpendicular to the touch sensitive surface. The touch sensitive sensors may be arranged between the touch sensitive surface and a housing of a device comprising the touch sensitive user interface. Compression force sensitive sensors, for example based on a piezoelectric effect or a pressure controlled resistor may be easily arranged between the touch sensitive surface and the housing without requiring a large installation space. For example, the force sensitive sensors may be located at a periphery of the touch sensitive surface. The touch sensitive surface may be supported at the periphery by a plurality of force sensitive sensors. Furthermore, the force sensitive sensors may be arranged at predetermined locations below the touch sensitive surface. Therefore, the force sensitive sensors may be arranged at a suitable and appropriate location taking into account the installation spaces available in the device.

"According to another embodiment, the touch sensitive surface is substantially rectangular with four circumferential sides. Furthermore, at least one force sensitive sensor is located at each of the four sides. In such an arrangement, the touch sensitive surface can be reliably supported via the force sensitive sensors and an accurate determination of the force information for each of the touch positions can be determined from the force sensitive sensors.

"According to another aspect of the present invention, a touch sensitive user interface is provided. The touch sensitive user interface comprises a touch sensitive surface, at least two force sensitive sensors, and a processing unit. The touch sensitive surface is configured to provide a touch information indicating touch positions of at least two concurrent touches on the touch sensitive surface. Starting times of the two touches may be different. The at least two force sensitive sensors are mounted at the touch sensitive surface at different predetermined locations. The at least two force sensitive sensors may be mounted at other locations where forces applied to the touch sensitive surface may be measured, e.g. at a frame supporting the touch sensitive surface. Each of the at least two force sensitive sensors is configured to generate a corresponding force information depending on a force being exerted on the corresponding force sensitive sensor. The processing unit is coupled to the touch sensitive surface and the at least two force sensitive sensors. The processing unit is configured to determine the touch positions of the at least two concurrent touches on the touch sensitive surface based on the touch information from the touch sensitive surface. Furthermore, the processing unit is configured to determine or calculate for each of the at least two concurrent touches a corresponding touch force based on the at least two touch positions, the force information from the at least two force sensitive sensors, and the predetermined locations of the at least two force sensitive sensors. Thus, the touch sensitive user interface provides not only touching positions of multiple touches on the touch sensitive surface, but also a force information for each of the touch positions indicating a force exerted at the corresponding touch position. This additional information concerning the force of the touch on the touch sensitive surface for each touch position may be used as a further control information for an application communicating to the user via the touch sensitive user interface.

"According to an embodiment, the touch sensitive user interface is adapted to perform the above-described method.

"According to another aspect of the present invention a device comprising the above-described touch sensitive user interface is provided. The device may comprise for example a mobile phone, a personal digital assistant, a mobile music player or a navigation system. The touch sensitive user interface providing not only the touching positions of multiple touches on the touch sensitive user interface, but providing additionally for each touch position a corresponding touch force, enables a user interface for the device for inputting comprehensive and complex control information in an easy and intuitive way.

"Although specific features described in the above summary and the following detailed description are described in connection with specific embodiments, it is to be understood that the features of the embodiments may be combined with each other unless specifically noted otherwise.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

"The invention will now be described in more detail with reference to the accompanying drawings.

"FIG. 1 shows schematically a mobile device according to an embodiment of the present invention.

"FIGS. 2-5 show arrangements of force sensitive sensors in a mobile device according to embodiments of the present invention."

URL and more information on this patent application, see: berg, Peter; Klinghult, Gunnar. Method for Operating a Touch Sensitive User Interface. Filed August 31, 2011 and posted August 7, 2014. Patent URL: http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=4912&p=99&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=20140731.PD.&OS=PD/20140731&RS=PD/20140731

Keywords for this news article include: Sony Mobile Communications AB.

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Source: Politics & Government Week


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