Apple's New Focus on Touch
image via AppleInsider
A patent application filed by Apple back in June
that was discovered by AppleInsider today
shows plans for a revolutionary new touch interface that would be used on a device with a touch screen large enough to accommodate two hands. In addition to being yet another piece of news that will be seized upon as evidence that Apple is working on bringing a new tablet device to market, the plans are further indicatio
n that the company is focused on making touch-sensitive interfaces a big part of its future products.
The application refers to a need for "pointing methods with higher resolution, larger movement range, and more degrees of freedom yet which are easily accessible from typing hand positions." Apple notes that pointing devices embedded in keyboards were difficult to control optimally, and are presenting a touch interface with multiple modes as a solution to that need.
The invention Apple is seeking a patent for is both the hardware details of the touch screen as well as interface design and the specific motions that will be recognized. The plans are for a system that will sense such things as whether someone is resting their hands on the screen, the duration between when a hand or fingers touch the surface and when they are picked up, whether one finger or multiple fingers are tapped, interpreting the movement of two hands together as two-dimensional manipulation, and more.
Apple is clearly looking to be an industry leader in the new field of touch computing, and like any basic technology it's hard if not impossible to predict with certainty how the new interface will change the way we interact with technology. However, just as the mouse revolutionized not only human-computer interaction, but allowed for fields like desktop publishing to emerge, it's apparent that the new multi-touch interface has the potential to enable developers to create new applications. Ultimately, these tactile screens could extend the current point-and-click flatland of our desktops into something that more closely resembles our real world. And that's much more interesting than a ten-inch tablet.