Apple granted a patent for ‘glove touch detection’

Do you find it aggravating when, in cold weather, you have to remove your gloves to use the touch features of your iPhone or iPad? Apple wants to change that and has been granted a patent (number 9,609,417) for “glove touch detection.”

In the patent filing, Apple notes that touch sensitive devices can be used in environments where an object touching a surface of the touch sensitive device can be separated from the surface by a barrier. For example, a user can be wearing a glove on one or both hands or can have a bandage on one or more fingers.

The barrier can create a separation between the object and sensors of a touch sensor panel and degrade the sensors' ability to identify the object as touching the surface of the touch sensitive device. This, of course, is a problem. (Interestingly, a laptop is show in the illustration of touch devices in the patent filing.)

Here’s Apple’s (somewhat tech-speak heavy) summary of the invention: “In some examples, in addition to using a signal density make threshold to identify an input patch as touching the surface, a signal density stability threshold can be used to identify the input patch as touching the surface. 

“In some examples, a weighted average of peak signal density contributions from recent identified touches can be computed to dynamically adjust the make threshold for new input patches. In other examples, a new input patch identified as associated with the same path as an earlier touch can have its "make" threshold dynamically adjusted based on the earlier touch without computing a weighted average.”

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.