The United States Patent and Trademark Office has just granted Apple a new patent today for its "Slide to Unlock" iOS gesture. The patent application was filed more than a year before the very first iPhone and refers to the unlocking gesture in broad terms as when "contact with the display corresponds to a predefined gesture for unlocking the device."
The patent was filed in December 2005 and is credited to Apple's senior VP for iOS, Scott Forstall along with engineers Imran Chaudri, Bas Ording, Freddy Allen Anzures, Marcel Van Os, Stephen O. Lemay, and Greg Christie.
The filing includes illustrations similar to how the gesture control is implemented on iOS with a simple left to right graphical switch, but the description defines the patent more loosely. According to the wording, it would appear that all current smartphone unlocking designs from Android makers could face some legal trouble ahead.
"A device with a touch-sensitive display may be unlocked via gestures performed on the touch-sensitive display. The device is unlocked if contact with the display corresponds to a predefined gesture for unlocking the device. The device displays one or more unlock images with respect to which the predefined gesture is to be performed in order to unlock the device. The performance of the predefined gesture with respect to the unlock image may include moving the unlock image to a predefined location and/or moving the unlock image along a predefined path. The device may also display visual cues of the predefined gesture on the touch screen to remind a user of the gesture. In addition, there is a need for sensory feedback to the user regarding progress towards satisfaction of a user input condition that is required for the transition to occur."
Android handset makers such as Samsung and HTC, both offer alternatives to Apple's unlock gesture, such as with wiping a lock screen off the display, inserting a puzzle piece, or pulling a ring. But they all involve moving graphical elements along a predefined path of sorts. We'll see soon whether this patent gets thrown in the ever growing patent battle against Android.
[via 9to5 Mac]