On November 17, 2011, Google’s patent application relating to Touch Gesture Actions from a Device’s Lock Screen published as US Pub. No. 2011/0283241. This is not an issued patent. It is merely a publication of Google’s patent application.
State of the prior art
The invention relates to the operation of a phone. More particularly, it resolves the problem of going through multiple steps to accomplish a simple task such as increasing the volume of music playing on the phone. For example, if the user wants to increase the volume of the music player, the user unlocks the phone, accesses the music player, increases the volume and re-locks the phone so that the phone’s system won’t be inadvertently accessed. In today’s instant gratification culture, these are just too many steps. Is there really a simpler solution?
Google’s patent application teaches bypassing the lock screen. Instead of unlocking, manipulating then relocking the phone, Google’s invention allows the user to access functions and programs on the phone directly from the lock screen. At the lock screen, the user can perform a touch gesture which is either pre-defined or user-defined that controls the volume of the music being played or any other function on the phone. For example a swipe up can be programmed to indicate increase volume. In the patent application, the example of bringing up a calendar is illustrated. Regardless of which example is used, the broad concept is directed to manipulating the phone without having to unlock, manipulate then relock the phone to secure the phone. The user bypasses the lock screen. The phone is still secure because such gestures would not be inadvertently performed while the phone is in one’s pocket or purse. Brilliant!
Non Final Office Action
This application received its first Office Action on October 28, 2011 right before publication. The Office Action is non-final which means that Google has an opportunity to submit substantive arguments to the Examiner. Moreover, all claims were initially rejected. The initial rejection of the claims is not of much concern at this point since most patent applications are initially rejected by the USPTO. The better gage is to determine the relevance of the prior art cited against the patent application. Did the Examiner cite prior art references that are on point or did the examiner stretch the interpretation of the cited prior art in order to make the obviousness rejection.
Analysis of Office Action
Based on a brief review of the file history, the claims were rejected as being obvious based on the combination of two prior art patent documents, namely, the Moore reference and the Oh reference. It appears that the cited references are on point but Google still has good arguments to counter the obviousness rejection. For example, the Oh reference is directed to a phone in which a gesture both unlocks the phone and launches an application. This appears to teach away from Google’s invention which facilitates operation of the phone while keeping the phone locked while manipulating the application.
I’m optimistic that Google will be able to get this application to mature into a patent. Personally, I think that I would like this feature. While mountain biking, I’d love to increase or decrease the volume of the music player with a single gesture, without having to perform multiple gestures to accomplish this simple task. To view this published patent application, enter the publication number 2011/0283241 in the search box at freepatentsonline.com.
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