Apple’s ‘touchless’ touchscreen iPod revealed

“Sometimes Apple seems to just patent things for the heck of it. But its latest invention — a ‘touchless’ touchscreen for its iconic iPod music player — could be headed to market in short order. In its recent blockbuster earnings call, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer hinted at new iPods coming soon. And last month, Terry Gou, the chairman of Hon Hai, a major contract manufacturer for Apple, blabbed about a ‘none-touch’ iPod on its way in the second half of the year,” Owen Thomas blogs for Business 2.0 and Fortune.

“Apple’s new patent shows a tablet-style iPod with a virtual scrollwheel that’s activated by the mere proximity of a finger — so you can manipulate the player without actually smudging the screen by touching it. If the patented device is the same as Gou’s ‘none-touch’ iPod, this idea could become reality in your pocket in a matter of months,” Thomas writes.

Full blog here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Judge Bork” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
More info surfaces regarding Apple’s latest iPod touch-screen patent filing – July 21, 2006
Hon Hai Chairman: Apple about to unveil next-gen iPod using a ‘none-touch’ concept – June 15, 2006

41 Comments

  1. For everyone worried about the dimensions of the iPod in the sketch, just look at Apple’s history of patent submissions. A lot of iPod patent submissions, even recent ones use the first generation iPod to illustrate the innovation.

    Why would Apple show actual dimensions on something that is publicly available to its competitors. The dimensions aren’t important at this stage of the game.

  2. nonarkitten: they’re not displaying it to scale for christ’s sake. they’re displaying it so its large enough for the viewer to see the ‘virtual scroll wheel’ in action. they’re patenting the interface, not the exact dimensions of a particular device. when they’re actually patenting a device, they’ll add the exact dimensions and make it to scale.

    macrealist: every comment that you type is ridiculous, and it makes me laugh!

  3. People, get a grip. MDN opened a can of worms here when they used that title for the article; it is misleading indeed.

    This isn’t “revealing” anything, but a patent, and a patent doesn’t always equate with a real product. Apple is working on something, but we won’t know what it is until it’s released.

    I agree with the comment about using the iPod without having to look at it. If Apple does come out with such a product, I think the scrollwheel will be available anywhere on the screen and simply moving your finger in a circular motion will activate it.

    MDN, please be more considerate of your readers. This is not an iPod being revealed, until the iPod itself is revealed.

  4. Maczealot: “It’s obvious that these “revelations” are nothing more than those Etch-a-Sketch-quality illustrations that have been circulating the web for months. What’s next, MDN, scanned images of napkins with hastily drawn cartoon characters?”

    Well, RTFA man. It’s an illustration from an Apple patent application. So two things:

    1) that’s a typical illustration used for patent purposes – enough to illustrate the idea without giving away the whole show;

    2) it’s an official document submitted by Apple to the Patent Office. Therefore, it has a lot better provenance than a pretty CGI render by somebody with Maya.

    But I agree with some of the other posters. Some form of physical feedback is desirable, and the illustration looks more like a tablet-format controller for running iTunes, probably through a AirTunes enabled WiFi network. Sort of an equivalent to the Sonos controller.

    That said, it wouldn’t be hard to migrate this technology to an iPod-sized player. My main concern then would be durability and battery life.

  5. People, do you think before you post? (MacRealist, it’s obvious that you don’t, so don’t bother typing “no”). The size of the device isn’t important. What’s being patented is what’s important, and thus the device is featured at a scale that allows the patent to be seen. DUH!

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