Apple Files Interchangeable Touchscreen Patents

Three of Apple Computeris U.S. patent filings, including two that relate to dynamic and configurable touchscreen interfaces, were published on Thursday. Patent Application 20060256090: "Mechanical overlay," filed on May 12, 2005, describes using mechanical overlays on a touch sensing devices like laptops, trackpads, tablet computers, PDAs and cell phones.

If used in a MacBook or MacBook Pro, the touch sensitive area could replace the keyboard so that users can overlay an input interface thatis appropriate for - a traditional keyboard, a musical keyboard, or any other specialized overlay interface.

Touchscreen overlays on a Mac.

Patent Application 20060256037: "Active enclosure for computing device," filed on July 12, 2006, describes a computing device with replaceable covers. Each cover serves a specific purpose and turns the computer into a device like a PDA, GPS, gaming system, or iPod.

Interchangeable iPod parts.

Patent Application 20060259503: "Customizable, dynamic and on-demand database-informer for relational databases," filed on May 12, 2005, describes a relational database system that dynamically updates and configures itself based on user interaction. As an example, it can display tips and help information based on user actions, and can update its information so that it always provides up-to-date content.

All three patents show Apple Computeris forward-thinking attitude towards computer technology, but the touch sensitive display and active enclosure filings may give us a glimpse of Macs and iPods to come. By using replaceable overlays, Apple could offer a way to convert a MacBook or MacBook Pro into customizable devices for specialized tasks, or offer new ways for users with physical disabilities to interact with their computer.

Future iPods may come with interchangeable covers that morph them into other devices, like cell phones, PDAs, or handheld GPS units. Instead of purchasing one device that does everything, users could buy a basic iPod unit and add on the extra features they want.

Since Apple doesnit comment on unannounced products, weill just have to wait for Steve Jobs to say "And one more thing" during one of his famous presentations.

Thanks to MacNN for the heads up.