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.

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  • Guest

    Congrats to ‘zon on the ‘tent!

  • Will H.

    More bull**** software patents.

  • Vroo (Bruce Leban)

    As described, this sounds like a terrible feature. Let’s hope Amazon patented this to prevent anyone else from doing it. (And debouncing and jitter removal is hardly new if that’s what they’re really doing.)

  • callmeisaac

    Amazon patents gravity!!

  • cle001

    Sounds more like tricking you into clicking on an ad – as if there weren’t enough of those popping up all the time.

  • Vandrvekn

    I think if this is ever implemented, there will be an add-on for Firefox to block it the next day.

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