Nintendo was doing touch screen gaming before it was cool and rumors contend Sony is playing with similar tech for the next PSP, but a new Apple patent giving the company rights to certain gestural controls could signal a roadblock for companies looking at touch screens in future devices.
The U.S. Patent Office recently granted Apple a patent over specific gestures featured in their multi-touch technology created for the iPhone and iPod Touch, including "pinching" and "swiping," reports World of Apple. The patent comes on the heels of cellular competitor Palm introducing the Pre, a new phone also featuring multi-touch tech.
While this particular patent has been widely discussed alongside the Pre, with games becoming an increasingly popular (and profitable) avenue on Apple's platforms, could this have implications for Nintendo and Sony, too?
Here's how the patent reads:
"A computer-implemented method for use in conjunction with a computing device with a touch screen display comprises: detecting one or more finger contacts with the touch screen display, applying one or more heuristics to the one or more finger contacts to determine a command for the device, and processing the command. The one or more heuristics comprise: a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a one-dimensional vertical screen scrolling command, a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a two-dimensional screen translation command, and a heuristic for determining that the one or more finger contacts correspond to a command to transition from displaying a respective item in a set of items to displaying a next item in the set of items."
Just because Apple has control over certain multi-touch patents would not necessarily stop Nintendo or Sony from pursuing similar technologies, but could nudge them away from it, if they're forced to pay Apple royalties. Look at what happened when everyone used rumble technology in their game controllers, prompting patent holder Immersion to sue everyone using it.
Either way, if advanced touch screen usage was in the cards for either company, competition in the phone market may have just complicated plans.
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