Apple patent app details next-gen ‘multi-touch input surface’

“The latest patent filing from Apple Inc. hints at a next-generation multi-touch ‘surface’ that would combine typing, pointing, scrolling, and handwriting capabilities into a single ergonomic design aimed at replacing traditional input devices such as the keyboard, mouse, and drawing tablet,” AppleInsider reports.

“Like last week’s filing for an advanced multi-touch trackpad, the concepts outlined in the massive 80-page document are partially credited to Wayne Westerman of Fingerworks, a company absorbed by Apple several years ago as part of its quest to deliver iPhone and a new generation of input devices,” AppleInsider reports.

“The filing, submitted four times on July 30, 2007 with varying title descriptions, calls for a generic device that tightly integrates yet clearly distinguishes the different types of input without providing excess strain or muscle movement,” AppleInsider reports.

“‘It should therefore appear modeless to the user in the sense that the user should not need to provide explicit mode switch signals such as buttonpresses, arm relocations, or stylus pickups before switching from one input activity to another,’ Westerman wrote. ‘Epidemiological studies suggest that repetition and force multiply in causing repetitive strain injuries. Awkward postures, device activation force, wasted motion, and repetition should be minimized to improve ergonomics,'” AppleInsider reports.

“Therefore, the multi-touch creator explained that an ideal implementation of his concept calls for multi-touch surface apparatus which is both compliant and contoured to be comfortable and ergonomic under extended use,” AppleInsider reports. “It would ‘provide tactile key or hand position feedback without impeding [a] hand resting on the surface or smooth, accurate sliding across the surface.'”

Much more in the full article, including more patent app illustrations, here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “RadDoc” and “Brawndo Drinker” for the heads up.]


  1. Of course, in typical Microsoft fashion, the common word “Surface” has been highjacked to ambiguously refer to M$ (even though they have nothing real attached to it).

    Oh well !! , we all know we can’t trust a Microsoft Word.

  2. You know, I wouldn’t worry much about Microsoft and the “Surface.”

    They’ve had more than 30 years trying to get Windows to work using the traditional keyboard and mouse and they still can’t get it right.. So there’s certainly no way they are gonna be able to do it with a new technology like multi-touch either.

  3. Perhaps this will make real that virtual high tech screen they sometimes feature in CSI: Miami. I think the producers got too taken in by Tom Cruse computer work in Minority Report.

    And, like macromancer and others, the phrase “big ass table” did come to mind when I saw the drawing. But Apple wouldn’t be that dumb. Microsoft, on the other hand, ….

  4. @ Demon

    “Star Trek Next Gen Input Control Console Panels.”

    Oh, you mean the panels that are made of a 2.5 mm tripolymer-coated transparent aluminum wafer with an embedded sensor matrix, which detects tactile input by the operator’s fingertips and auditory feedback.

    The layouts of the display surface/panels are software-based known as LCARS (Library Computer Access and Retrieval System). It continuously monitors operator activity and continually reconfigures the display surface/panel to present the operator with a selection of the most frequently chosen courses of action in any given situation.

    Damn. That would kick butt. C’mon Apple….now, make it.

  5. This is a huge step closer to the interface in the movie “Minority Report”. (but it is still obviously a good ways out)

    I could imagine Steve walking in to Fingerworks with a copy of the movie and saying… “Figure out a way”.

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