Way back in 1998, Jobe and I dreamed up a new type of interface – perfectly suited for mobile devices. We called it Active Edge. The patent was granted in 2002. It resembled the touch interface that is currently the rage, but was confined to the 4 borders of the display. The user could control the device simply by interacting with the bezel of the display. (Above are sample screens and a device prototype by industrial designer Laura Mahan)
An active edge user interface includes dynamically configurable flexible touch areas positioned near the perimeter of a display to support interactive communication between a user and a user environment for flexible active touch areas surrounding a display. The interface allows for multiple levels of sensitivity, texture, key travel, and varying widths of active touch areas based on the user environment.
As a bonus, the Active Edge UI contained piezo-electric plates to simulate effects such as physical bumps or accelerating scrolling. Alas, Nortel decided not to build this.
Today, Apple is granted a patent on essentially the same invention – 12 years after our original filing! Their ‘touch sensitive bezel’ is described as
An electronic device has a display and has a touch sensitive bezel surrounding the display. Areas on the bezel are designated for controls used to operate the electronic device. Visual guides corresponding to the controls are displayed on the display adjacent the areas of the bezel designated for the controls. Touch data is generated by the bezel when a user touches an area of the bezel.
Who knew? Everyone is waiting for the Chosen One’s product announcement, yet a Mac tablet has been available for a while. Axiotron will take *customer-supplied Macbooks and for 7 bills or so turn it into a swanky tablet.
The downside is that it’s still a bulky, heavy, full featured laptop. Pretty cool for a mod though. You would think that Apple would wage war over this – but quite the contrary. According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, Apple registered “TabletMac” in 2005. It was granted in 2008, but Apple transfered ownership of the brand to Axiotron.
We can safely say that ‘TabletMac’ will not be unveiled next week! Some have suggested the iPad (due to a trademark battle) or the iSlate… Personally, I hope that Apple drops the silly ‘i’ thing.
Fresh off the press at the US patent Office are some interesting filings by the Cupertino Cult.
1. POWER MANAGEMENT CIRCUITRY AND SOLAR CELLS – Are shiny solar cells going to be the ‘new aluminum’? This invention describes a clever mechanism of virtually re-ordering cells to produce constant voltage in the case that certain cells may be obscured by usage of the device. Production of this technology would certainly enhance Apple’s ‘green cred’, as well as being a great convenience for users.
2. PARKING & LOCATION MANAGEMENT PROCESSES & ALERTS – your iPhone becomes your parking valet. Seems a bit silly. Shouldn’t this just be a dollar app? The patent also alludes that it can tap into public transportation data to facilitate commuting.
3. LIGHT SENSITIVE DISPLAY WITH PRESSURE SENSOR (+2 other variants) – further proof that Apple will introduce dual touch screen with capacitive and resistive capabilities. This means a finger or a stylus for your new iSlate!
4. SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR MONITORING DATA AND BANDWIDTH USAGE – an indication that Apple wants to own web content delivery. This content will be served up from the company’s watermelon patch: the new immense data center being built in North Carolina.
Imagine if you invented the @ symbol (aka ‘commercial at’)… in 1400… or whenever (no one is sure) It was used for basic accounting, but mostly useless for the masses. That is, until that email app became all the rage. Now imagine if you could charge $2 to everyone using your symbol. You’d be beyond rich!
In this tech world of abbreviated texting it’s no wonder some want to cash in. Here is the ‘Sarc Mark’ – a special symbol meant to denote sarcasm. Download it for 2 bucks. But it’s quite uninspiring, and I doubt anyone would catch its meaning.
So what’s sarcasm? According to Webster: “a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain” That’ll be 2 bucks, buddy!
This has been around since the launch of the Zombieland web site promoting the movie. The flash app buried inside the site is a brilliant execution of UI. It takes many complex / abstract concepts of graphic tools and makes them usable – for the masses.
The first improvement – the controls are contained in one pane – no floating tools! Image import is flawless – enlarge, move, spin… The drag and drop effects have built in tools for scaling angling, etc. Each effect is created as a layer. LAYERS – the most loved and infuriating feature of Photoshop. Each effect (layer) has a transparency slide bar and a delete control!
The original image can also be easily adjusted for contrast, color, contrast, and saturation. I’m expecting that ‘saturation’ for most users of this site will be an exploration of what saturation means!
Incredible design taming some incredible complexity. Have you zombified yourself? Send us the picture!
BTW – yes, that’s me on a bad day. On top is my son’s frog ‘Frogger’ on an especially bad day!
The Sociology Lab at the prestigious Toys-R-Us Institute recently published some definitive research on gender differences. The study concluded that females were perfectly satisfied with magnification power of 90x in telescopes and 600x in microscopes. Males on the other hand suffered severe magnification envy, requiring at least 250x in telescopes and 1200x in microscopes.
This proves an old adage. I just can’t recall which one.
In the not too distant future you will be able to identify your surroundings by simply pointing your phone’s camera at what you see. What you see through your view finder will be enhanced with spatial data pulled from the interweb. Already available is the Apple iPhone 3Gs app named Nearest Tube which should help you to find your way home from the pub via the London underground.
Someone right now is probably putting the finishing touches on the Android app ‘Google Air’. Just point your camera phone out the airplane’s window to identify the streets below. An overlay of street names will be pulled up and displayed, including bus stops marked with click-able icons. Why would you want to know street names as you’re flying over them at five thousand feet? Well, I’m not sure, but cool that’s for sure. Watch how 2D reality can be converted into 3D virtual reality:
Real time mapping of twitter keyword trends mapped out around the world. Small oddities to consider with these maps, the tweets seem to be identified by internet service providers, so there are groups of words around major cities such as Montreal but zooming down to small towns or neighborhoods won’t provide more detail. These are high altitude trends! Super nice that you can simply click and open the trend keywords to see live tweets.