The gesture of pinching to zoom has become pretty standard on multitouch displays. The BlackBerry Torch sports it along with quite a few other smartphones. Apple applied for a patent for the gesture in December of 2006 and was awarded a limited version of the patent which narrows the focus. Here are the very specific actions Apple received a patent for:
- A multitouch display detects at least two contacts.
- Those contacts perform a first gesture.
- That gesture adjusts an image in some way: magnification, orientation and rotation are specifically claimed, but the patent is broad enough to cover virtually any adjustment.
- The first set of contacts is broken.
- A second set of contacts is detected.
- The second contacts perform another gesture within a pre-determined period of time.
- The gesture continues to adjust the image in the same way.
As Nilay points out on Engadget the steps 5-7 are the key parts of the patent since they limit the patented gesture to pinching and zooming a second time within a “pre determined period of time.” In other words you would need to zoom and then zoom again…
Who knows what kind of trouble Apple will start with this patent. Score another idiotic win for our US patent system!