The recent patent revealed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office displays the fact that Apple is working to make all iOS devices more accessible for users with disabilities. The patent also describes an accessory framework that allows non-touch input devices to interact with touchscreen user interfaces.
Patent No. 8,433,828 with “Accessory protocol for touch screen device accessibility” as a title describes specialized techniques for controlling a device with the touchscreen input by using a non-touch hardware accessory.
According to the patent description “ for a user to interact with a touch screen device using touch input, the user must be physically present at the device in order to touch the screen. The user must be capable of providing touch input and capable of viewing the screen of the device or otherwise knowing where input is needed.”
The system allows users to communicate and control the UI of a multitouch input device such as the iPhone or iPad by using a peripheral device such as a joystick, button pad or any other non-capacity touch accessory. As it was expected, the communication will be wireless or wired.
Another notable example in the Apple battle to provide accessibility and easiness to its devices is the VoiceOver technology. However, in this case, the accessibility framework received accessibility packets such as commands or any other input parameters. The host device, in this case the iPhone or iPad, will translate the input, and it will generate an accessibility command. Host device will send an output command and parameter back to the accessory such as sounds or Braille data.
The accessory provides clear inputs such as joystick movements or button presses, which are registered to a database on board the touch device. All commands between the host and the accessory device are standardized while allowing access to a multitude of apps. As it was described in the patent description, the patent refers to screen dimensions and user interface graphics. Moreover, the host device will send commands regarding incoming data such as phone calls and text messages. While reading the text message, the user can easily use the cursor in order to scroll pages, text input, cut text, or text-to-voice.
Since such feature or device does not yet exists, the VoiceOver and iOS accessibility features are quite useful for most users, demonstrating the fact that the Fruit Company takes this matter very seriously.
The patent was first filled in 2010 with Christopher B. Fleizach, Paul Holden, Eric Taylor Seymour, Emily Clark Schubert, Lawrence Bolton and Sylvain Rene Louboutin as its inventors.