Amazon has been granted a patent on a “gravity-based link assist” system — a method of pulling a user’s on-screen pointer toward a link or clickable object when it travels within a “gravitational field” on the page.
The idea is to make pages easier to navigate, but as Wired News points out, the technique also makes it much easier to click on a product to buy.
Here’s how the patent describes the approach: “A user interface of an electronic content rendering device implements gravity-based link assist to enhance user experience when browsing linked content. As a user moves a pointer along a trajectory across various links and objects, gravitational fields surrounding the links and objects provide a pulling effect that draws the pointer toward these fields. Responsive to pointer deceleration being detected when the pointer resides within a gravitational field, the link assist repositions the pointer to a center of the link or object relative to the trajectory of the pointer within the field.”
It reminds me a bit of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Kinect dashboard interface, where the on-screen buttons act like magnets, helping your virtual hand stick to them as you navigate.
Amazon applied for the patent in May 2010, and it was granted Feb. 25.