Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Popular media hypes up a trivial Apple 3-D gesture patent

Science fiction writer Michael Crichton once said about journalists' cluelessness on subjects that require special knowledge:
“Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them.
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”

The recent media coverage of US 8,933,876 awarded to Apple is a remarkable case of baloney reporting. For example, in a CNBC news segment Dan Costa, the Editor-in-Chief of PCMag.com says, he's surprised how broad the patent is. Obviously, Dan is clueless because in reality the patent claims only a vertical unlock gesture - a narrow set of functionality that is extremely easy to work around, e.g. by implementing it horizontally.

The Business Insider header says, "Apple Just Patented 'Minority Report'-Style Gesture Controls." This statement is a huge stretch of reality because Apple patented just a tiny extension of the technology already implemented in, e.g. Microsoft Kinect, Nintendo, and other devices.

As a rule, when you read something about patents in popular media consider yourself under the influence of the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect.

tags: patents, apple, media, information, error

No comments: