Patent Applications Hint at Touch Screen Macs

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.