Proximity Sensors to assist Multi-Touch Interface?

5 12 2008

A newly published patent application discusses the possibility of incorporating additional proximity sensors (PS) around multi-touch panels to detect body parts.
This relates to the use of one or more proximity sensors in combination with one or more touch sensors in a multi-touch panel. The combination of these two different types of sensors can be used to detect the presence of one or more fingers, body parts or other objects hovering above a touch-sensitive surface or touching the touch-sensitive surface

Apple already incorporates a proximity sensor in the iPhone to turn the iPhone’s display off, but the patent application explores the concept in desktop and laptop settings. One example given is the automatic display of on-screen buttons when a finger hovers above the screen. Apple might accomplish this by embedding IR sensors within the display itself:

For example, a grid of IR receivers can be placed on the panel, allowing each IR receiver to server as a “proximity pixel” indicating the presences or absence of an object in its vicinity.

The concept is similar to an old patent from 2004 which described the integration of grid of small cameras throughout the display. That configuration had the additional advantage of capturing video. Apple use of proximity detectors could also assist in more advanced concepts they’ve explored including the detection of specific fingers used in a gesture.

The patent application is an extension of one from 2007, so doesn’t represent many new ideas, but continues to show Apple’s interest in mixing modes of input to produce a richer experience.


One More iPod Competitor

14 11 2008

In time, MySpace may build a device that competes with Apple’s popular iPod. This is what comes out from a hind dropped by Chris DeWolfe, CEO and co-founder of MySpace. Reuters reported this Friday that at the Web 2.0 summit in SF, DeWolfe said that such a device could possibly be developed by MySpace.

Currently though, the focus of DeWolfe’s company was to be the music service which incepted in September. The music industry is behind MySpace Music in a big way as Universal Music Group, Sony BMG and Warner Music Group are involved.
Edgar Bronfman, CEO, Warner Music says that MySpace was differentitated from Apple’s offering as it gave emphasis to community and sharing as far as music was concerned and was not solely concentrated on straight ahead sales of music or devices.

MySpace is based in Santa Monica and the parent company is News Corp, Fox Interactive Division which operates out of Beverly Hills.

Opera got kicked by Apple

8 11 2008

Opera got kicked by Apple from AppStore

The NY Times profiles Opera Software, the company that distributes the Opera browser for multiple platforms. According to the article, however, Apple is not allowing an iPhone version of the browser into the App Store:

“Mr. von Tetzchner said that Opera’s engineers have developed a version of Opera Mini that can run on an Apple iPhone, but Apple won’t let the company release it because it competes with Apple’s own Safari browser.”

Gruber speculates that it could have to do with the Javascript interpreter or, more clearly, that Apple has been restricting apps that compete directly with some of their built in iPhone apps such as Safari.

Apple has been criticized for its decision to restrict certain applications from the App Store, and this suggests users shouldn’t expect any other web browser alternatives (such as Firefox) to appear in the App Store at any point in the near future.

Well in personally not surprised, Apple already said no to Firefox and an alternative mail client.


New info appeared:

In a profile this past week of Opera Software, the New York Times had indicated that Opera’s Mini Browser had been rejected from the App Store based on anti-competitive grounds. Apple has rejected other applications claiming the submitted application’s feature set mirrors one of Apple’s too closely; a practice which has drawn heavy criticism.

This particular case, however, may not be entirely accurate according to further research by John Gruber.

My understanding, based on information from informed sources who do not wish to be identified because they were not authorized by their employers, is that Opera has developed an iPhone version of Opera Mini – but they haven’t even submitted it to Apple, let alone had it be rejected.

Gruber had previously believed that the browser had been rejected due to a built-in JavaScript interpreter, however he clarifies that this was incorrect. In fact, Opera Mini does not contain such interpretive code. As explained by Gruber:

In a nut, it works like this: You request a URL in Opera Mini. Opera Mini makes the request to a proxy server run by Opera. Opera’s proxy server connects to the web server hosting the requested URL, and renders the page into an image. This image is then transmitted (in a proprietary format called OBML – Opera Binary Markup Language) to the Opera Mini client. Opera Mini displays the rendered image on screen. This may sound convoluted, but apparently the result is very effective – it�s faster to transmit, because only OBML (a compressed binary format) is transmitted to the mobile device over the phone network, and far faster to render on slow mobile processors.

However the current version of Opera’s Mini browser for other platforms is coded using Java (and BREW) which is not supported on the iPhone and is against the terms of the SDK. In order for Opera Mini to be made officially available, the program would have to be ported to C/Objective-C.

Update: Upon further investigation, the differences between the New York Times and John Gruber’s accountings may be based in semantics rather than substance.

An Opera employee blog seems to indicate that Apple is indeed using anti-competitive reasoning for keeping the Opera Mini browser off the iPhone. However, neither the employee’s blog entry nor the New York Times article indicate that the browser was officially submitted to the App Store and rejected, the point to which Gruber took issue. It remains possible that Apple and Opera have been communicating via channels outside of the App

Source: MacRumors

The New Macbook Air

6 11 2008

The new MacBooks came out the other day and they are styling that new “unibody” that the other macbooks have.    Physically, it has not changed much other than a Apple adding mini DisplayPort connection under the flap that hides the lone USB port and headphone jack.  They also changed the mousepad to a single button, multi-touch system, just like the othes have.

As for the internals there have been some great upgrades.  Like, for example, the new GeForce 9400 that has replaced the old intel chipset.  They have also increased the front-side bus from 800MHz to 1066MHz, while keeping the Core 2 Duo processor offerings roughly the same, though the chips L2 cache increases from 4MB to 6MB. The default memory is 2GB and sadly no upgrade available here.  A 120GB (4200rpm) hard drive replaces the old 80GB unit, and a 128GB solid-state drive replaces the previous 64GB SSD offering. The new 4.5 Hour battery is impressive and Apple has made this new release a “green” one.

Compare them side by side Here (right from the Apple Site):

No New iMacs Sorry!

6 11 2008

Sorry everyone but apple has just announced that they will not be releasing any new products or even hardware updates until after Christmas.  So all those rumors that have been circulating about that Apple will release:

  • New iMacs on November 10
  • iMac software updates
  • new Mac mini models

are false.  One Apple rep said, “Our holiday line-up is set”.  I, for one, am pretty impressed with their newest releases.  Supporters claim that Apple is set in all fields for Christmas and will do great for sales this year… (no surprise there).

Here is a funny but cool looking mock up I found some sources claim will be the next iMac:

The New Macbooks are Here!

30 10 2008


The new MacBook Pros are cool but not really the highlight of Apple’s new releases. No, this time its theMacBook!

The New MacBooks look wonderful and run flawlessly.  A huge Improvement over the last models!

For the same $1,299 price of the “middle” MacBook, you get:

That Cheap Plastic Case has vanished! Instead you get the cool aluminum. And yes, the aluminum is in one solid piece = “unibody” as Apple calls it.  This does two things:  Provides for a more solid construction and less room for manufacturing error.


  • A less than one inch laptop (0.95 inches)
  • Height: 0.95 inch
  • Width:12.78 inches
  • Depth:8.94 inches
  • Screen size = 13.3 – nothing too impressive

Expansion and Connections:

  • MagSafe power port

  • Gigabit Ethernet port
  • Two USB 2.0 ports (up to 480 Mbps)
  • Mini DisplayPort
  • Audio line in
  • Audio line out
  • Kensington lock slot
Weight:  A full half-pound lighter – 4.5 lbs
Battery and Power:
  • A full half-hour more battery life – 5 hours
  • 45-watt-hour lithium-polymer battery
  • 60W MagSafe Power Adapter with cable management system
  • MagSafe power port
  • Graphic Card =   Nvidia Geforce 9400M.  Apple claims 5x performance , and with the relative “lightweight” performance of the Intel graphics in previous models, this seems likely.
  • Aside from video, the system bus bumps from 800 to 1066MHz.
  • LED screens with “instant on” .
  • 2.0GHz or 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 3MB on-chip shared L2 cache running 1:1 with processor speed
  • 1066MHz frontside bus
  • 2GB (two 1GB SO-DIMMs) of 1066MHz DDR3 SDRAM; two SO-DIMM slots support up to 4GB (Which you don’t really need, but its still a nice available feature for those planning on further upgrading this already amazing machine)
The New Track Pad… isn’t it missing something:
  • Full track pad touch gestures (including new ones added today). Previously the full set of gestures was only available on the Pro and Air models.
  • The same glass track pad as the Pro models.
  • And no “click” button, the actual pad can be pressed down to “click”
Hard-drive Extensions And Back lit Keyboard:

This is clearly an amazing upgrade. For the high end MacBook you spend $100 more than yesterday, but compared to the old laptop at that price you get all the above plus a back lit keyboard.  Also, both models now have Hard-drive Extension options for a 320GB drive ).

Yes, there is no Fire-Wire but then again…. not that many people really use it.  Still, I wished they would have put that in there just for those who do utilize it (Something to separate the MB from the MBP).

Other Cool things:

  • Built-in iSight camera
  • Built-in omnidirectional microphone
  • Blue-tooth
  • Wireless:The latest 802.11n wireless technology

Also…. its Green:

  • Highly recyclable aluminum and glass enclosure
  • Mercury-free LED-back lit display
  • Arsenic-free glass
  • BFR-free internal components
  • PVC-free internal cables
  • Meets ENERGY STAR requirements
  • EPEAT Gold rating

Overall: Another great Apple release.  Let’s see, much more solid and professional looking. More durable. Better screens. Pretty much all the Pro features except Fire-Wire. Faster performance (especially in graphics). Thinner. Lighter. Same price.

Mac OS Snow Leopard, A Quantum Leap

30 10 2008

For those of you who don’t know, Snow Leopard is the next version of OS X for Apple.  This morning this new version (10A190 (Mac OX 10.6) was seeded to the developers.  Shipping is expected to start in about one year.

Snow Leopard will focus on quality and performance instead of new feature ; Apple has made it clear that there will be efforts to improve support for multi-core processors and GPU processing.  Apple says it will support:

  • Support for connecting to Microsoft Exchange 2007, servers will be included in Adress Book, Mail, and iCal
  • Faster installation times and smaller hard drive footprint.
  • Support for up to a theoretical 16TB RAM by further developing 64-bit kernel technologies.
  • Grand Central: a parallel-programming technology by Apple that aims to have the OS take full advantage of multi-core CPUs and Graphics Processing Units.
  • QuickTime X which will feature optimized support for modern codecs.
  • Open Computing Language (OCL): allowing developers to code applications to use the GPU for non-graphics purposes.
  • And a 64-bit kernel which provides a complete 64-bit environment for applications, along with 32-bit support for older Macs.