Patent Applications Hint at Touch Screen Macs

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Apple may be considering adding touch-based interfaces to its computer lineup based on information in a series of patent applications. One intriguing patent application even shows an iMac that switches between traditional mouse and keyboard input to on-screen touch input depending on the screen position.

According to Patently Apple, one of the patent applications shows an iMac mounted on a hinged base that lets users drop the computer down into a position that’s better for touch input, or push it back up into a traditional display position. The computer detects what position it’s currently in and auto-switches to the appropriate interface style.

The patent also shows a MacBook with a screen that rotates to lay flat against the laptop’s keyboard. When the screen is in a traditional laptop orientation, keyboard and mouse controls work, but when the screen is rotated to lay flat against the computer body touch-based controls take over.

This patent application dovetails nicely with yet another touch-based input patent application for MacBooks. The touch screen MacBook patent describes the same technology used in the iPad display, but blends it with a traditional laptop configuration.

While Apple has applied to patent touch-based computer interfaces, that doesn’t necessarily mean the company intends to build machines based on the technology it hopes to protect. Based on Apple’s growing focus on touch interfaces, however, it seems likely that at least some of the same tech will eventually bleed over to Mac OS X.

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Montague Gammon III

lie flat, not “lay flat”

Lee Dronick

lie flat, not ?lay flat?

It is a flat out lyre. smile


Why not just have both modes active all the time? Why do I have to lay the monitor down to be able to touch it?

I think that it would be frustrating to be doing something and you move the screen just a bit and the mouse and keyboard don’t work all of a sudden, etc.

If both modes are always active, this is the same as any touch screen PCs on the market already.


It’s not just the mode, it’s the operating system. The idea is to switch from MacOS X (in “vertical” mode) to iOS whatever (in flat mode). Touch-screens have been around for ages, but they are as good as useless in a MacOS X or Windows environment, which requires relatively precise pointing; as the iPad has shown, the relatively imprecise pointing of one or more fingers is ideal for the kinds of tasks performed when a device is held more like a book and for this, the operating system will switch to iOS.

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