Apple has filed for a patent (number US 20230081556) for “electronic devices with air input sensors.” It hints at future Mac laptops that can recognize and respond to hand gestures.
About the patent filing
In the patent filing, Apple notes that electronic devices such as laptop computers and other electronic devices include input devices such as keyboards, touch pads, and touch sensitive displays. Using these input devices, users can control the operation of the electronic devices.
However, Apple says it can be challenging to operate electronic devices using certain input devices. For example, some input devices are only configured to detect touch input on a two-dimensional surface. This may overly limit the types of input that a user can provide to an electronic device.
Apple’s solution is for a laptop with air sensors that offer gesture-control support. The tech giant has filed for and/or been granted multiple other patents for such technology.
Summary of the patent
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent filing: “An electronic device may include air input sensors that gather air input from a user’s fingers, a stylus, or other object in a volume of air near the electronic device. The air input sensors may include ultrasonic transducers that emit ultrasonic signals towards the volume of air and that detect the ultrasonic signals after the signals reflect from the external object. Using time-of-flight measurement techniques, control circuitry may track the movement of the external object in the volume of air near the electronic device.
“A display may provide visual feedback of the air input, such as shadows that preview where the input will be directed to on the display. The volume of air where input is detected may be divided into multiple input zones that trigger different actions from the electronic device. The ultrasonic transducers may include acoustic lenses.”
The accompanying Mac laptop concept is courtesy of Yanko Design.