Apple patent application for virtual controls points to future iMac Touch (with video)

“On February 2, 2012, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that describes new virtual controls for a desktop with a touchscreen,” Jack Purcher reports for Patently Apple.

“This once again illustrates that Apple may be working on an iMac Touch desktop computer,” Purcher reports. “Considering that a company by the name of Perceptive Pixel will be introducing a 27″ slanted Touch Display through various vendors later this year, Apple should step up this project from patent concept to reality sooner rather than later.”

Purcher reports, “In today’s report, we’ll show you a very cool video that’ll make you lust for one of these new systems.”

Much more in the full article, including Apple’s patent application illustrations, here.


  1. Wow, what a report and timing it to that video hits the nail on the head. I absolutely love this idea of a next generation iMac that changes everything, again. It’s so Steve Jobs.

  2. I don’t see a clear connection between this patent and a “touchscreen iMac,” based on the information in the full article.

    The patent has two points. One is giving the user a clearer indication that a particular GUI control (such as a “knob”) has been selected. The other point is giving the user better, more precise, visual feedback for setting the value of that control.

    The two points can use used equally effectively whether the pointing device is a mouse, a trackpad, a stylus, or finger on a touchscreen. It can be used in Mac OS X (without touchscreen) or iOS (with touchscreen), or even Apple TV (with a remote control).

    I doubt that Apple will release a desktop computer with a touchscreen, and this patent is NOT an indication that it will happen.

    1. I totally disagree. There are three supporting patent apps to day that all basically conclude this way:

      “existing keyboard and mouse based methods for displaying menus often use multiple steps to display various menus and sub-menus, which are tedious and create a significant cognitive burden on a user. In addition, existing menu display methods take longer than necessary, thereby wasting energy.”

      This is in context with desktop and a touchscreen as the patent figures bear out. This is enivitable. Apple has an iMac touch based patent and the information today is expressing and reinforcing how natural a way it will be to use such a desktop.

      You’re likely one who said that Apple would never market another tablet again, even though patents were indicating their seriousness of doing just that in 2006. It’s your opinion, but not one shared by those who see the video and realize that this is what the iMac touch patent was presenting prior to Perceptive Pixels ever came to market.

      1. I don’t understand your point with the quote from the patent apps. It supports my point. It says “EXISTING keyboard and mouse based methods” are tedious and burdensome to the user. So this new method, using a mouse or other device (that is not touch-based), would be more intuitive and efficient. It would also work with a touch-based GUI. Nothing specifically points to a large-screen computer with a touchscreen.

        > You’re likely one who said that Apple would never market another tablet again

        Not true. And Apple NEVER previously marketed a touchscreen tablet, so the point is irrelevant.

        Touchscreen devices work well to a certain size, but not to something as large as a 27-inch iMac. There are many reasons why it fails Apple “usability test,” which is why they have not done it yet, even with MacBook-sized computer.

        (1) The user’s arms, hands, and fingers block a significant part of the screen (from line of sight) while touching screen. Multitouch gestures will often require two sets of arms, hand, and fingers, doubling the problem. With small touchscreen, fingers do block the screen, but the movement needed to get them out of the way after each touch is small (a few inches). With a 27-inch screen, the movement is measured in feet, and it’s the whole arm (maybe two arms), not just fingers and hand.

        (2) The user’s body must move to accommodate the large immobile screen. With a 27-inch screen, the user must hold arms in awkward positions for extended periods. To touch the furthest parts of the screen, the user will need to lend forward and move not just arms, but the entire upper body. With a small touchscreen, only hands and fingers need to move to reach every part of the screen, AND the mobile device is positioned to accommodate the user; the user is NOT moving to accommodate the device.

        (3) Since there will still need to be keyboard and mouse, in addition to a touchscreen, that touchscreen iMac’s OS will need to accommodate both. The iOS and Mac OS X separation works very well, because one is optimized for touch (no on-screen cursor) and one is optimized for keyboard/mouse. Mixing the two is what Windows 8 is trying to do, and Apple intentionally stayed away from that approach.

        (4) Constant cleaning of smudges on a 27-inch screen. It’s fairly painless on an iPhone or iPad, but imagine wiping down an iMac’s screen a few times a day.

        (5) Something superior already exists as a method to interact with computers with large screens. It’s a keyboard and mouse/trackpad (or other equivalent). It’s ultimately about efficiency. People do not want to stand (as seen in video) and wave their arms around all day, when they can sit comfortably and command their computers to do their bidding with minimal movements of ONLY their fingers and hands (that do not block the line of sight to the screen).

        I think Apple will go up to about 12 inches with iPad. I don’t think there will be an Apple-made “Mac” with touchscreen.

        1. The patent does state that the methodology presented will also work with a desktop computer with a touchscreen as well as a trackpad. But it clearly states a touchscreen desktop and Apple’s iMac Touch patent is already established.

          So you’re arguing with the wind there Ken1. The rest of your argument is an opinion. Good for you. This is a real product in that has a market. The CEO made it clear it will be quickly coming to the consumer space in a few years. This is just a fact.

          Gorilla arm. Give me a break. What a wimp. Matching your chair to the low slant of the display will not give you gorilla arm. That’s nonsense. Why don’t I get gorilla arm working with my iPad for hours. It doesn’t pass the laugh test.

          I see that your just a know it all, so I’ll end it here. But your arguments are laughable excuses for being a naysayer.

          I remember when 95% of the Mac Community was demanding that Apple choose the BeOS over 3% wanting NeXT’s OS. Being loud doesn’t make you right and your naysaying attitude only matters to your friends. Not anyone who could read. But hey, it’s your opinion and I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree.

        2. Apple is successful because Apple knows when to say “no.” I’m sure there are dozens (hundreds) of Apple-owned patents for things Apple never produced.

          Even for products that have a market, Apple says “no.” If Apple made a Mac that has the current iMac’s specs (not the lesser Mac mini), but with no built-in screen, it would sell very well. But Apple says “no” to that. If Apple had released an “iPhone 5” with a 4-inch screen last year, it would have sold very well. But Apple said “no” to that, and it remains to be seen what the next iPhone will look like.

          If Apple produced a Mac with a touchscreen, it would probably sell quite well. But I believe Apple will continue to say “no” to that…

          > But your arguments are laughable excuses for being a naysayer.

          Well, at least I make an argument to support my opinion, not fling insults… 🙂

        3. Ken, I may as well as be listening to old Apple records that are broken. Steve Jobs said no publicly to a smartphone and tablets over the years and 7 years ago Jobs scoffed at thin clients storing data remotely. But now, Apple has an iPhone, an iPad and iCloud. So your so called “arguments” just blew up in your face.

          Like I said, we agree to disagree.

        4. What…? I’m didn’t consider Steve Jobs saying Apple was or was not going to do something… My arguments are MY OWN, based on MY consideration of usability. So your complete argument is that Apple WILL do something BECAUSE they previously said they will NOT do it? Wow, you’ve completely changed my mind with your utter brilliance. 🙂

          Let’s see… I believe Steve Jobs said that Apple did not want to produce a cheap laptop to compete with netbooks. Apple never did that; Apple created iPad instead. I believe Steve Jobs said Apple should not license the Mac OS, despite pleas from Dell and others to do so; and they never did that. Sometimes NO actually means NO.

        5. I couldn’t reply to your last comment of 10:07 pm, as there’s no “reply” icon to click on.

          You’re changing your comments all over the place. It’s clear Apple has said no to many products and then surprised their competition and did the reverse. You’re certainly not the one to decide what Apple will do. This blog’s report is about a patent, in fact a series of patents pointing to a desktop, like the foldable stand iMac Touch, that will support a touch screen and new way of working …. just like an iPad. I believe it’s possible, period. You on the other hand “don’t like the idea” based on your whimsical beliefs which don’t count as an argument.

          Now, could you just leave it that. We disagree. What are you? Some kind of MDN bouncer or something? Someone disagrees with you based on facts. Get over it.

          When Job talke about over 200 patents for the iPhone alone, he wasn’t kidding. Jobs loved to patent everything that Apple was seriously working on. We’ll see who’s right in the next five years.

        6. > You’re changing your comments all over the place.

          LOL… Hey, I’m the one who was discussing the actual topic, and you somehow bring up “Apple doing the opposite of what Apple said before” as the primary reason why my “opinion” is wrong. I’m glad you agree (“we” agree) that it was it was annoying. 🙂

        7. You started by stating that the report did not support a desktop with a touchscreen. Obviously you didn’ t read the report that talks about one patent talking about the failure of a keyboard and mouse in favor of a touch based desktop. I’ll trust Apple’s engineers. End of story.

        8. And you responded with a quote that SUPPORTED why I said the information in the full article did not provide a connection between the patent and a large-screen Mac desktop with a touchscreen. So thanks for that… 🙂

        9. I’ll make it simple for the simpleton. Apple has an iMac Touch patent on record with Steve Jobs blessing. One of yesterday’s patent applications made it clear that a keyboard and mouse combination were tedious and create a significant cognitive burden on a use which totally contradicts the notion of Gorilla Arm. Why, because an iMac Touch is designed (by their patent) to fold down to a useable angle.

          Your spin is silly, Ken.

        10. If I’m a “simpleton,” go back to my comment where I list FIVE clear reasons why a large-screen Mac with a touchscreen is a bad idea (and none of them were “Gorilla Arm” BTW). I’ve got more reasons, but I stopped at five…

          Hit reply for that comment, and explain why it’s all “silly spin.” For convenience, I even numbered each point for you, so you can easily state your counter argument. I dare you… 😉

          All you’ve done so far is say “Gorilla Arm” (which I did not mention) is nonsense (without really explaining why you think so), and call me a “wimp” because I actually value sound ergonomics and efficiency.

          FYI – A patent is NOT a design for an actual product.

        11. Ken, throughout 2006 I read Apple’s patents about all kinds of tablets including a phone and a larger iPad. The patents were mentioned in Steve Jobs keynote introducing the iPhone. The patents did in fact turn into actual products. With your last statement saying that they don’t, clearly shows me that you don’t a brain in your head. Only in hindsight will we know if the iMac Touch comes to be, not before hand. I believe it will happen and you don’t.

          Of course you will always counter with more drivel, as proven above, to have the last word. But this ends this string for me. You could argue with yourself now “ken1.” I don’t agree with your position. Get over it.

  3. That thing is fabulous. A super-high end iMac to lust over. No doubt very expensive indeed, but it would make magazine layouts almost fun! I hope Apple buys him up before the enemy does.

      1. No it isn’t an old man’s argument. However, the contrary position is naive and ignorant. Qualities which are typically held by those who are young, although I know many older people who are as naive as any youngster. They refuse to learn from experience and remain in a state of willful ignorance. Hope is one of their favorite words.

        The problem with touch based desktops is simple ergonomics, and there is no way around them. Unless you can develop some way of reengineering the human form.

        If a touch screen is positioned vertically, the ergonomic problems will affect the arms and shoulders. If a screen is positioned horizontally, the neck and shoulders are ergonomically affected. If a screen is placed in a 45° position, the ergonomic issues are simply spread between all areas that can be affected… the ergonomic issues aren’t lessened by doing this.

    1. What don’t you get in the video? How does one get gorilla arm when the display is at such a low angle. Maybe you need to exercise a little more, because a normal man won’t have any trouble with such a Mac.

  4. A fully functional touch screen IMac would be the death blow to traditional desktops. Period! There may be reason for a keyboard with such a device but the mouse will become moot. Just as the flat screen TV killed the picture tube, so will be the plight of traditional the PC. I can see limited need for regular PC. Such as, information displays and airport schedule screens?

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