This Patent Application has received a non-final rejection by the US Patent Office! An initial rejection is part of the typical course of a patent application.
AN OVERBROAD PATENT ON zooming transformations on an electronic display - This application from Prezi seeks to patent the idea of...zooming displays within frames! 10 minutes of your time can help narrow US patent applications before they become patents. Follow @askpatents on twitter to help.
QUESTION - Have you seen anything that was published before 11/17/2011 that discusses:
- zooming user interfaces with multiple display elements and a frame
If so, please submit evidence of prior art as an answer to this question. We welcome multiple answers from the same individual.
This seems to be an overly broad patent application based mostly or even entirely on known technologies. It tries to patent user triggered moves/transformations to particular points on a canvas using "frames".
The application comes from famous Prezi, Inc., who did the zooming online presentation tool. Although I think this is a nice idea to do for presentations, this patent tries to patent the technologies behind this. I think those are not at all new and, due to its broadness, the patent also prevents other uses.
Google Patents link: http://www.google.com/patents/US20130132895
This kind of patent is really problematic for many projects using standart css transforms based on user interaction for zooming and moving including some of my favorite open-source projects like jessyink, impress.js or reveal.js to name a few. This could even affect page swipes seen on many mobile devices where a div(=frame) is moved into the current view.
Claim 1 requires each and every step below:
A method to edit a display screen of a zooming user interface system comprising:
receiving a user request to transform a set of display elements that are displayed on a display screen encompassed by a frame;
in response to receipt of the user request, producing an information structured in a non-transitory storage device that indicates each display element of the set of display elements that is displayed on the display screen encompassed by the frame;
transforming each display element indicated by the information structure.
In English this means:
A method to zoom into a set of display elements, comprising:
User requests a transformation (e.g. a zoom operation) of elements (e.g. objects) that are displayed on a display screen encompassed by a frame;
Computer creates a data structure with each display element of the set of display elements in accordance with the requested transformation of those elements;
Computer transforms the display element indicated by the data structure.
I think there is quite a lot of prior art for most of the methods claimed:
- pptplex (Powerpoint plugin to support zoomable slides, around since at least 2008)
- google maps (around since 2005)
- jessyink (has views since 2009)
- prezi itself (they only applied for patent end of 2011)
- ken burns effect
- map based games
However, I'm not an expert in patents and especially software patents and there might be patentable parts. So maybe someone can have a closer look at the claims and/or find prior art that even better resembles the methods described:
The patents has claims in three categories:
- transforms to specific points in space
- doing that with frames
- doing 1&2 on a machine with storage
The 1st is clearly prior-art and the 3rd is just a patent specific reformulation of the two others. The 2nd may be more tricky. It seems trivial to go from a center point + scale + rotation (e.g. Gmaps) to the actual view frame. Still there might be more obvious cases of prior art for that. I've seen similar things in iMovie but I don't know when they came up (there is some indication that this was possible before the application: http://web.archive.org/web/20111031001100/http://acomp.stanford.edu/tutorials/imovie_video_editing). Maybe there is even other video software that uses frames to zoom into specific areas. Frames as data structures for containing objects is also prior art as this is what a HTML-div is. And these can be zoomed and rotated using css transforms which were already in the specs/drafts in 2009.
So in my opinion, what prezi really did new is to apply these methods to presentations and this is definitively a good idea (although i'm not sure such an idea is patentable). However, in their claims they do not relate to presentations and I think the generic methods are very wide and not new.
It would be great if someone can comment on this or even find more evidence of prior art.
Thanks a lot!