Apple Scores Proximity-based Touch Patent

A new patent from Apple describes a touch-based interface that can register actions based on how close your fingers are to the surface, and will likely have tablet rumor fans claiming this is a feature in the new device ahead of the company's special media event scheduled for late Wednesday morning.

Patent number 7,653,883 describes a system where finger gestures are sensed even when there isn't any contact with the device's surface. Those gestures are interpreted into navigation commands or in-application actions.

Drawings included with the patent show a tablet-like device as well as an iPod, indicating that Apple could potentially use the technology in several products.

Apple will be hosting a special media event today at 10AM pacific time at the Yerba Buena Center. Rumors and alleged leaks suggest the company has been working on a tablet device that runs the iPhone OS, sports a 10-inch multi-touch display, includes a front-facing camera for video chats, supports Wi-Fi and 3G wireless networks, and more.

Apple has not confirmed it is introducing a tablet device today, or that the device includes proximity-based touch navigation.

Be sure to check in with TMO for our Apple product announcement coverage.

[Thanks to Patently Apple for the heads up]