Microsoft Applies For Patents on Multi-touch/Multi-screen Gestures – Should Android Worry?


Some patents Microsoft applied for back in February of ’10 have recently gone public thanks to MicrosoftNews. So, why is Microsoft news on an Android site? Well, kids — if granted, these patents could pose a significant threat to our beloved Android OS and her OEM’s. Let’s take a look at Microsoft is trying to claim as “theirs”  (brace yourself).

Off-Screen Gestures to Create On-Screen Input

The patent provides for single-touch gestures, multi-finger same-hand gestures, and multi-finger different-hand gestures, all of which can operate along the bezel moving from the inside-out, or the outside-in. And if you take a close look at the pic, you also see mention of bezel gestures that display a drop-down menu ala Android. Immediately when I think of bezel gestures the BlackBerry PlayBook comes to mind. RIM better watch out.

Multi-finger Gestures

Bezel gestures seems to be big with Microsoft. This one particular deals with multi-finger gestures associated with an exposable drawer. These gestures can also be used on a device with multiple screens.


Multi-screen Pinch and Expand Gestures

This is pretty much your standard multi-touch “pinch-to-zoom function but bundled with multi-screen compatibility.

Multi-screen Hold and Tap Gesture


Last on the list is Microsoft’s “hold and tap” patent. Again, this is for interacting with apps via split-screen. This is a lot like long pressing an icon or widget in Android but in this case you would hold an object on one screen (left) and tapping a second object on the the opposite screen will move the object to the screen where you tapped. Basically, it’s kinda like copying the object your holding onto the opposite screen.

What do you guys think of these exposed patents? Some of this stuff actually sounds pretty neat and I would love to see it incorporated into some dual-screen Android tablets. For instance, Sony’s upcoming S2 tablet could benefit greatly from some of these gestures. Of course, if Microsoft gets their way, Android manufacturers may have their hands tied when it come to interacting with your Android tablet.

[Via TechCrunch]

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. Really don’t see the point of multiple screens. Unless they are like legos, where you can just stack them and make a screen as big as you want…

    Either way, the bezels will get in the way and it will be annoying.

    1. the thing is there are already several multiscreen android devices either on the market or on their way to the market. think of it like this, if ford applied for a patent on “using any other method than internal combustion for vehicular motivation”.. suddenly every electric car and any other alternative engine vehicle out on the market (for years) would become a violation.

  2. Eh, give them the multi-screens.

    On another note the current s***storm over tech patents means that these probably wont get approved any time soon.

  3. These patent wars are too silly.

  4. Every patent will be challenged from now on. An agreement may be a ways off as Apple is sitting on tons of cash and Microsoft sees lawsuits as its only revenue stream since Windows mobile is a no-go.

  5. Good luck with the bezel gestures patent. June ’09 saw the release of the Palm Pre which has bezel gestures. A little before Feb. ’10. Sorry.

  6. It’s nice to know that the fictional person operating this fictional tablet device is married. (presumably to a fictional spouse. See wedding ring in final patent picture)

  7. Hey, I think I will patent the “middle finger” gesture… Hazzaaah, I’m BAZILLIONAIRE!

  8. For the trillionth time, we need to reform the patent system.

  9. That one form factor for the multi screens invokes feelings of Courier.

    1. Painful feelings :(

  10. That first patent (Off-Screen Gestures to Create On-Screen Input) something like this was already on the really old HTC Touch with TouchFlo. when you slide you finger up the screen there would come up a cube with shortcuts.

    I think these patents are silly and i hope these don’t get approved.

  11. MS applied for the patents in 2010. Hasnt Android had the pull down notifications since the beginning? At least before 2010.

    Google shouldnt have to worry about that. iOS might…lol

  12. The question is whether these ideas are obvious.

    If you were transported back to 2008, and tasked with, and spent 8 hours per day on designing a touch only user interface, how many days / hours would it take before you independently came up with any of these ideas?

    It’s like Amazon’s 1-click patent last decade. If Amazon hadn’t done it first, someone else would have within six months. It was obvious.

  13. Like most all software patents, this has all been done before, and is nothing novel. It will be a joke when this is awarded. Yes, I said when, not if, because I have no faith in the USPTO.

  14. my Optimus Black came with motion gestures (and i think so did the Galaxy S2?)
    where i can tap on the side of my phone, and the next music track will play, or if im in the gallery the next picture will come.

    but MS thought of it in 2010… so i guess LG loses here?

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