Apple wants its iOS and watchOS devices to work well even when they’re wet

Apple has been granted two patents (number 20180307375 and 20180307374) for “finger tracking in wet environment” with the goal of making iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches work better even if their screens are wet. Hopefully, that will include sweat, something that sometimes makes it difficult to quickly operate my smartwatch when I’m running. 

Water patent.jpg

In the patent filing, Apple notes that touch input processing for touch-sensitive devices can be improved by filtering unintended contact detected on a touch-sensitive surface. In wet environments in particular, water on the touch-sensitive surface can be erroneously detected as touch input and degrade touch performance. In some examples, input patches can be classified as touch patches or non-touch patches prior to computationally-intensive touch processing. 

Apple notes that filtering out unintended touches classified as non-touch patches can reduce processing requirements and save power. Additionally, classifying input patches can improve touch performance in wet environments. In some examples, input patches can be classified as touch patches or non-touch patches based on characteristics of edge touch nodes. In some examples, input patches can be classified as touch patches or non-touch patches.

Interestingly, the graphics accompanying the patent also show a touch screen laptop. Not that I expect a Mac laptop with touch anytime soon, but somewhere down the line….

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.