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無控制器輸入技術專利法律分析 (廖正多 法律所律師) (2011/02)

蘋果(APPLE)的手持平板電腦iPad於2010年1月27日首度亮相,即引起一陣旋風式的電腦使用方式的革新。手持平板電腦iPad是一種無需手指直接接觸到螢幕,即可由主機判別手指的動作,而作為輸入/輸出辨別的方式。APPLE將這種技術在2005年9月30日提出申請,經美國專利商標局(United States Patent and Trademark Office)在2006年7月20日公開在美國專利第2006/0161871 A1號「手持式設備近接輸入偵測(PROXIMITY DETECTOR IN HANDHELD DEVICE)」。在該專利的描述裡,一個重要的技術在於「辨別手指的移動型態作為輸入方式(An I/O platform, comprising: an I/O surface having one or more integrated I/O devices selected from input devices and output devices; a proximity detection system configured to: detect when a finger is in close proximity to but not contacting the I/O surface; detect a position of the finger above the I/O surface when the finger is detected in close proximity to but not contacting the I/O surface; select, based on an application appearing on the I/O surface when the finger is detected in close proximity to the I/O surface but independent of x and y components of the position of the finger over the application, a first graphical user interface element from a plurality of available graphical user interface elements operable to allow input to be provided at least by movement of the finger when the finger is detected in close proximity to but not contacting the I/O surface; display the first graphical user interface element on the I/O surface and below the finger; and detect a proximity gesture performed by the movement of the finger above the first displayed graphical user interface element.)」,主機辨別手指的移動,成為輸入之指令,而經程式的運作反映出輸出的畫面,是該專利所描述的技術特徵。

微軟公司(MICROSOFT)的KINECT無控制器遊戲機,是一種無需使用控制器,而由主機判別人體姿態(gesture)之型態而作為輸入/輸出之辨別。MICROSOFT將這種技術在2009年2月23日提出申請,經美國專利商標局(United States Patent and Trademark Office)在2010年8月5日公開在美國專利第2010/0199228 A1號「姿態辨別輸入裝置(GESTURE KEYBOARDING)」。在該專利的描述裡,一個重要的技術在於「辨別使用者的姿態型態作為輸入方式(A system for recognizing user movement as character input to a computing system, comprising: a processor; a data gatherer that receives image data corresponding to a user gesture; and a gesture recognizer engine that determines at least one character that corresponds to the user gesture.)」,主機辨別使用者的姿態輸入後,以預儲的姿態程式作為資料分析的基礎,而反映出應輸出的畫面型態,是該專利所描述的技術。

以上2專利,都是指以無控制器而以人體的手指或移動或型態作為輸入的資料來源,APPLE的「手持式設備近接輸入偵測(PROXIMITY DETECTOR IN HANDHELD DEVICE)」專利以紅外線偵測的方式達到辨識手指移動的輸入方式(Infrared proximity systems send out pulses of infrared light, and detect reflections of that light from nearby objects. The light may for example be reflected off of a finger located in front of the pulsed light. If the system detects reflected light, then an object is assumed to be present. If the system does not detect reflected light, then it is assumed that there is no object present. The light may be focused to a particular distance above the I/O surface.),MICROSOFT的「姿態辨別輸入裝置(GESTURE KEYBOARDING)」專利則以3D攝像器及紅外線偵測器作為姿態輸入之資料來源(As shown in FIG. 2, according to an example embodiment, the image camera component 22 may include an IR light component 24, a three-dimensional (3-D) camera 26, and an RGB camera 28 that may be used to capture the depth image of a scene. For example, in time-of-flight analysis, the IR light component 24 of the capture device 20 may emit an infrared light onto the scene and may then use sensors (not shown) to detect the backscattered light from the surface of one or more targets and objects in the scene using, for example, the 3-D camera 26 and/or the RGB camera 28. In some embodiments, pulsed infrared light may be used such that the time between an outgoing light pulse and a corresponding incoming light pulse may be measured and used to determine a physical distance from the capture device 20 to a particular location on the targets or objects in the scene. Additionally, in other example embodiments, the phase of the outgoing light wave may be compared to the phase of the incoming light wave to determine a phase shift. The phase shift may then be used to determine a physical distance from the capture device to a particular location on the targets or objects.)。兩個專利的主要技術看起來極為相似,惟因兩個專利的細節描述仍存有差異,且因使用的領域尚屬不同,以致於美國專利商標局認可兩個的存在。APPLE的「手持式設備近接輸入偵測(PROXIMITY DETECTOR IN HANDHELD DEVICE)」利用紅外線感應技術,偵測螢幕上方一定距離內之物體(包括手指或手掌),當該物體作一定程度的移動時,主機便會相對的發生該移動程度之動作,而反映出使用者所要達成的效果。MICROSOFT的「姿態辨別輸入裝置(GESTURE KEYBOARDING)」則是在主機裡預儲一定的動作,當以紅外線偵測到使用者的姿態時,所輸入的姿態資料便被解讀,並尋找符合姿態的預儲畫面行動,而反映於螢幕上。APPLE的「手持式設備近接輸入偵測(PROXIMITY DETECTOR IN HANDHELD DEVICE)」並無預儲的資料畫面,且鄰近感應的距離程度較短,是以感應器直接感應物件或手指的動作,而作出該動作所要達成的畫面反映。MICROSOFT的「姿態辨別輸入裝置(GESTURE KEYBOARDING)」的感應距離程度要求較長,其資料庫也必須預先儲存極為龐大的姿態資料,用來比對使用者的姿態改變。

在專利領域的法律問題裡,有一件重要的工作便是比對兩個或兩個以上的技術間的差異,何者為同,何者為不同,用來判斷各個技術間是否存在先前技術或是否有功能上的增進或功能上的重疊。無控制器的感應技術方興未艾,專利戰也看似剛剛上演,日後在無控制器的感應技術領域,是否將如以前科幻電影裡的場景,在戶外的活動空間裡,使用者手持真正的網球拍、棒球球棒,或手持真正的高爾夫球桿真正揮擊,而行動式的平板螢幕即可即使反映出使用者的揮擊動作,而作出適切的指示或反映出畫面,而達到遊戲、運動或教學的目的。如此的場景,或許在無控制器的感應技術日新月異的結果,會愈來愈人性化,而使科技融入遊戲、運動或教學之中。

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