Multi-touch and hover?

A recent patent filed by Apple contains some interesting insight into what the future of multi-touch may be. I’ve written about multi-touch and how the hover interactions we design don’t translate well, but based on what I can see in the patent’s images, things may one day change.

“Real-world” gestures such as hand or finger movements/orientations that are generally recognized to mean certain things (e.g., an “OK” hand signal generally indicates an affirmative response) can be interpreted by a touch or hover sensitive device to more efficiently and accurately effect intended operations. These gestures can include, but are not limited to, “OK gestures,” “grasp everything gestures,” “stamp of approval gestures,” “circle select gestures,” “X to delete gestures,” “knock to inquire gestures,” “hitchhiker directional gestures,” and “shape gestures.” In addition, gestures can be used to provide identification and allow or deny access to applications, files, and the like.

Apple files patents all the time, so it may mean very little, but it sure is fun (and brain-melting) to speculate.  Just look at some of these illustrations:

hover gesture
hover gesture
hover gesture

It’d be worth investigating what gestures mean in different cultures. For example, A-ok can mean both okay and you’re an asshole depending on your geographical location.

See also: Apple investigating hover gestures as multi-touch alternative from Apple Insider

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