Several new patent filings have revealed what appears to be Microsoft’s pen and touch plans, hinting at future Windows 8 use.
Microsoft filed for a variety of picture related gestures in January, 2010. The software giant has just published the patents to these gestures in the past few days. The gestures involve multiple implementations and allow for tablet users to make use of touch and pen based inputs. Microsoft has also supplied a number of images to accompany the gestures.
The most basic of Microsoft’s new gestures will allow for images and data to be copied by simply tapping the object to select it and then dragging it with a stylus or pen to the left of the object. The opacity of the object increases the further away it is moved from the source object. Microsoft states “although a specific implementation has been described using touch and stylus inputs, it should be readily apparent that a variety of other implementations are also contemplated,” suggesting that the copy gesture will be available without a pen/stylus input.
Microsoft’s staple gesture appears to allow tablet users to group objects together into stacks. Objects are selected by using touch and stylus inputs. An initial input is recognised and further taps on objects will allow objects to collate underneath each other into blocks. “The staple gesture may also be repeated to add additional objects to the collated display of a stapled group of objects, further collate groups of already collated objects, and so on,” says Microsoft’s patent filing.
Cut allows for images or objects to be split apart. The gesture works by a combination of touch and stylus or touch alone. Objects can be separated by cutting across them using the gesture.
Punch-out does what it says on the tin. The gesture allows users to manipulate an object and punch a section out of it. “It should be noted that although a specific example was described in which the punch-out gesture was input using touch and stylus inputs, those inputs may be switched, a single input type (e.g., touch or stylus) may be used to provide the inputs, and so on,” notes Microsoft.
Rip allows for objects to be separated into two using finger touch input. The gesture simply separates the object by a nature pulling apart of both fingers.
The edge gesture can be used to create straight lines from objects. The gesture can also be used to cut through other objects in a straight edge manner. The gesture appears to work like a rule, allowing pictures to be used for edging. This gesture uses a variety of stylus of touch inputs.
The stamp gesture is perhaps the most impressive of all Microsoft’s gestures. The tool allows users to create rubber stamps of existing objects and reuse them as a copied item.
The brush gesture allows users to quickly edit objects. Brush appears to allow users to quick remove a particular part of a picture or object and have it stored elsewhere on the screen. This is particularly useful for those who work with a number of images.
There’s a number of other gesture including carbon-copy, fill, cross-reference and link. The majority of the gestures appear to be photo related and have been previously demonstrated on the company’s Surface product (see video below). The patents also appear to be similar to Microsoft’s original pen and touch input plans for its axed Courier project. Microsoft has completed a number of research projects around pen and touch computing. The company clearly believes that the pen or stylus is still an important input object alongside touch and the software maker appears to be working to unite them in new ways.
Microsoft canceled their internal Courier project shortly after the release of the iPad. The project was an innovative new tablet concept that had promised to combine a dual screen book design with finger and stylus input. The leaked promotional materials demonstrated various concepts that would have brought an unparalleled productivity tool to the market. Microsoft is currently reading beta copies of Windows 8 in preparation for its BUILD developer conference in September. The company revealed its new tablet interface in June. The interface puts touch at the forefront using the company’s familiar Metro design of live tiles. Microsoft is expected to detail Windows 8 in full at BUILD and will likely release the first beta bits of the new operating system. A final version of Windows 8 is expected in mid-2012.
Image Credit: Microsoft Corporation/US Patent & Trademark Office