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Apple wants you to scratch and claw your iPad

The electronics giant has been granted dozens of U.S. patents, including one related to acoustic sensors in the housing of a device that will allow it interpret scratches differently from taps and other actions.

This figure from Apple's patent lays out how the technology could work. Apple/USPTO

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday granted Apple nearly three dozen patents, including one that covers how a device responds to acoustic signals such as scratching and tapping.

Patent No. 8,441,790, or "Electronic Device Housing as Acoustic Input Device," focuses on tech that would allow a device to detect and react to sound resulting from an impact with the housing, such as dragging a finger along the surface of the device. The sensors send information to a microprocessor, which can distinguish between different types of input as well as interpret what each input means.

For example, part of the surface of the device may be used as a trackpad or multitouch surface. A tap may be interpreted as a selection of content shown on the display rather than as a keystroke.

In another example, users can silence a ring by tapping the housing. And dragging a finger, stylus, or other object across the housing or surface of the display may mean something different from tapping the same area. Dragging a finger upward may increase the volume, while dragging a finger across the surface may drag and drop content, such as icon.

Movement in a particular pattern could lock or unlock the device, while taps or other interactions with the surface may turn on or off certain items, such as the camera.

Apple also received patents related to identifying tables in an unstructured document, light sensitive displays with object detection calibration, and audio port configuration for compact electronic devices, among many other items.

Patents have become a key focus area and battleground for electronics makers. Apple, Samsung, and others have sued each other repeatedly, accusing each other of ripping off designs and other elements. The companies have been building their arsenals in recent months and years, either by inventing technology or making acquisitions. The patents Apple received Monday follow dozens of others granted by the U.S. over the past year.

(Via Patently Apple)