Patent trolls have something of a reputation for overreaching when it comes to the lawsuits they file. In just the past few months, for instance, trolls have claimed they have patents on microtransactions in gaming, buttons that type smiley faces, tweeting in public, and Wi-Fi in general. If none of that sounds outlandish enough for you, you might be interested in a new suit being filed against Apple by a company called FlatWorld Interactives. What are they staking claim to? Not much, just the touch technology behind every single Apple device that has ever had a touch pad.
A new device developed by Kei Nakatsuma at University of Tokyo Department of Information Physics and Computing lets you use the back of your hand as a touch pad. Encased in the form of a wrist-watch, the device uses infrared sensors to track the movement of your finger across the back of your hand and translate it into the same sort of signals a mouse or a laptop touch pad provides.
This may seem sort of trivial, but there are some interesting uses this functionality could provide. First of all, since you can feel the back of your hand and feel with the back of your hand, you've got built-in haptic feedback. Secondly, in this increasingly digital world, it could be very useful if everyone had their own interface by which to interact with all the digital things in their lives. No more losing the remote or touching a filthy public number pad, you just use the back of your hand.