Over the past few weeks, various Apple patents have been revealed: patent to regulate iPhone camera usage, patent for real-time GPS alerts, and patent to moderate bandwidth carriers. All these documents have led to much speculation about what features will be included in next generation of the iPhone. A recent patent filed by Apple and discovered by Apple Insider, reveals that they are working on technology that will allow users to navigate and select an action by moving their iPhone in a direction a specific sound is associated with. The patent was first filed in 2009, but was recently made available to the public earlier this week. It will serve as an additional navigational option to multi-touch, as well as voice recognition, which Apple is rumored to be working on as well. The purpose of the function is to allow users to perform actions in situations where they are not able to view on screen
How It Works
If a user has headphones plugged into the iPhone, they will hear spatially distinct sounds that indicate which direction the device should be pointed in to perform a menu action. The images from the patent seem to indicate that users will be able to customize the type of directional audio that would be played.
The use of audio cues for menu selection is an interesting concept. This type of function would most likely be useful for users that perform physical activity and are not able to navigate their device through traditional means. Users would be able to flip through artists, albums, songs, and possibly pause and play. It would be interesting to see if this function could also be incorporated into the camera, such as capturing an image or recording. Apple has already unveiled a similar function with iOS 5 that will provide a shutter function via the iPhone’s volume buttons and headset controls. They seem to be looking for ways to allow users to perform actions through non-touch options.