The Tablet Patent Wars Continue: Gesture Control

by Dale Wright

The patent wars between Apple and its rivals continue. This time, the billion dollar company is vying for copyright of new gesture controls and user interfaces. Seen the movie ‘Minority Report’? In the not-too distant future, we’ll be using our hands to literally throw data from one device to another.

Microsoft have already moved into the arena of gesture controlled software with Kinect on the Xbox. It was the big release last Christmas and has become popular with programmers who have been adapting it for other purposes for almost a year: in fact, some hackers have already harnessed the power of Kinect to control Windows 7. Similar tech is used in Surface, a Microsoft product which detects facial expressions and movement to display interactive content.

In 2012, we’re going to see more and more gesture recognition on our home computers, and on our smartphones too. But the dominant force in gesture control is still to be decided, and much will depend on the outcome of the latest lawsuit to involve Apple. A number of smaller companies are also claiming early rights to various gestures and types of sensor. Any company who manages to gain a significant patent advantage is likely to control the market as brand new gesture-controlled devices evolve.

Owning the patents to new technology is a big issue. Recently Apple have managed to ban the sale of Samsung Galaxy tablets in some countries, and Samsung have counter-sued to try to restrict the sale of the new iPhone.

Last week, Steve Jobs’ biography revealed that Siri, their voice-controlled personal assistant, may be bundled with the next Apple TV. Siri on the Apple TV would allow the user to control their entertainment with the sound of their voice. Gesture control will totally change the way we draw, move data and examine objects on screen. But will you buy a gesture-controlled phone?