Autodesk last summer applied to patent the navigation wheel found in some of its newer software.
More interesting is their patent application for a presumptive drafting solution:
...a relevant geometric entity is identified based on how the cursor is moved over the drawing. A presumptive drafting solution is then provided [such as object snaps] based on the identified... entity. In addition, prior drawing solutions... are obtained and compared to the... geometric attributes.
Patents are hard to read, but this one seems to do the following:
- Select geometry by the way the cursor moves over it (selection without picking)
- If more than one presumptive drafting solution is available, then a priority process sorts them.
- When the cursor moves nearly parallel to an entity, it receives a higher priority; nearly at right angles, low priority. See figure.
- Making an x-shaped movement near the center of a line performs a mid-point osnap.
- Making a circle-shaped movement near the end of a line performs endpoint osnap. See figure.
- Making either movement could also extend a line, or not. See figure.
- Pausing over a point identifies it.
- Rules can be applied so that rectangles on layer Desks are always 3" away from wall socket blocks; or blue circles are usually tangent to yellow lines.
The patent claims any kind of gesture, and may well indicate Autodesk's plans for touch-based CAD.