Become a MacRumors Supporter for $25/year with no ads, private forums, and more!


macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

A recently published patent application from Apple entitled "Proximity detector in handheld device" describes an interesting technology for potential use in the next generation of iPod devices.

Readers should realize that Apple while continues to publish patents on technologies that never make it into shipping products, the concepts described in this patent were referenced by Hon Hai chariman Terry Gou in June 2006:

Apple is about to unveil the next generation of iPod, the best-selling music player in the U.S., using a "none-touch" concept, Gou said without elaborating

At the time the "none-touch" description was speculated to be an audio-interface, but this recent patent describes:

A method for initiating floating controls on an electronic device, the method comprising: detecting the presence of an object above and spaced away from a surface of the electronic device; and displaying a particular graphical user interface element on a display of the electronic device when the object is detected above the surface of the electronic device.

Essentially, as users point their fingers towards the screen, the appropriate controls would appear on the screen - such as a scroll wheel. Example images show the scroll wheel appearing and disappearing based on the user interaction. Meanwhile, the user's intentions are interpreted based on Gestures - which have previously been described.


macrumors regular
Jul 23, 2002
VanMac said:
Very Cool.

One way to elimate scratches :)

Maybe not just scratches, but fingerprints, too. If a new iPod has a screen that ends up taking up the whole front, this may be a good way to keep the front cleaner. Iirc it was one of the major complaints of a video device released by Olympus sometime back. The device had a touch screen.



macrumors 65816
Jul 19, 2006
Costa Rica

That would be realy awesome! cmon not only would it reduce scratches on the ipod but make it even cooler than it already is. This wold be one of the many features that would kill the Micro$oft "iPod Killer". I hope this is true....:D


macrumors 68020
Jan 12, 2006
Sounds cool to me. I guess all those people worried about fungerprints on the potencially touch screen iPod are psyched about this. So it is a touchscrenn you don't actually touch? This could really work out if done right. I wonder if you can still control your iPod in your pocked without having to look at it though... the iPod remote will come in handy if not :)


macrumors 6502a
Jun 15, 2006
this sounds very interesting and futuristic. i wonder how you click, or make a selection. it would be pointless if you could scroll wothout touching the screen, but had to touch it in order to click on the scroll wheel.
im excited though! sounds cool!


macrumors 6502a
Kinda takes away from that whole "Simplicity is everything" slogan Apple is known for, doesn't it? While I'll reserve my judgments on the design until it's worked into a final product, it does look like the user needs to take unnecessary steps to actually use the click wheel. Then again, pictures (drawings) probably can't do the interface justice.

Still, not everything has to be digital over analog...


macrumors regular
Jul 23, 2002
penter said:
i wonder how you click, or make a selection. it would be pointless if you could scroll wothout touching the screen, but had to touch it in order to click on the scroll wheel.

Yeah, that is a good question. It would seem to be a very touchy thing to differentiate scrolling from clicking the buttons. Maybe they'll move back to the 3G interface with the separate buttons. It seems that it might feel a bit awkward to me to not receive any tactile feed back.

I'm excited to see what Apple comes up with.

crack "Bad Puns" pip


macrumors 68030
Apr 14, 2006
Clemson, SC
sounds interesting, though i have a feeling many people will just ignore the feature and end up touching the screen anyway, lol.


macrumors regular
May 9, 2006
They are just giving Microsoft fewer features to throw into that Zune player - whether Apples uses them or not is another issue.


macrumors 6502
Mar 17, 2006
Canader eh
Cool stuff, sort of like a tablet design? I want to see Microsoft's product for sure though.

Lot's of Rumors lately eh? The Rumor mill is getting pretty high!


macrumors 6502a
Nov 21, 2005
Wave your hands in the air controls?

Wait, I've seen that before somewhere?! Hmmmmm.


As long as I don't have to wear those gloves. uuugh.


macrumors 603
Jun 19, 2003
Chicago, IL
Is it just me or does anyone else think that if a company never uses a patent it should go pub domain after x number of years? This is tantamount to cyber squatting IMHO.
Who gives a crap if you thought up a great idea if all you are going to do is sit on it and never use it.

Complaints aside. Its a cool idea.


macrumors 68000
Jun 13, 2004
I think this will even allow apple to be more versatile in their UI design. Imagine if the ipod interface now is on LCD, with clickwheels, buttons controlled by programming logic internally. For the first time users or non-savvy users, apple can tweak the interface to be even much more simpler, for heavy users, they can customise their own interface. The interface can even react to the users action, guiding them to the right button if it detected that the users are having problems. None of these will be tied down to the hardware design, giving it more room to fit into any particular users' competency level.


macrumors regular
Mar 29, 2005
Issaquah, WA
Daveway said:
I can see many first time user scratching their heads on this kind of design.

Gee, that would be a newsworthy event...confused first-time users. :)

Did you vote 'negative' on this? I cannot understand how the thumbs down vote happens so quickly, when there are few, if any, negative comments. Is Dell/MS just waiting for each new thread to come out?


macrumors 68040
Oct 12, 2005
How Minority Report......:rolleyes:

But seriously it sounds really dumb, I wonder what that thought projection iPod is picking up from me now......

I see dumbfounded iPod users ;)
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.