Apple patent hints at touch-screen desktop

Is some convergence underway between the iPad and Apple’s iMac desktop computers? A patent filing spotted by AppleInsider certainly suggest so. The filing, which was published in January, describes “transitioning between modes of input” on a device that supports both mouse and touch interfaces—and the illustration almost hints at an iMac successor:

Transitioning between a high-resolution input mode, such as a mouse-based interface, and a low-resolution input mode, such as a touch-based interface, is described. A change of orientation of a touch screen between a first orientation and a second orientation is detected. Transitioning between the two input modes and corresponding user interfaces (UIs) is based on the detected change of orientation. . . . Transitioning from one mode to another can include modifying an item displayed in the UI of the one mode into a corresponding item displayed in the UI of the other mode. The modifying can include enlarging/reducing, obscuring/unobscuring, moving, etc. For example, an item can be obscured by the visual effect of sliding it off of the screen.

AppleInsider points out that the patent application also provides an example with a notebook. Convertible laptops are, of course, nothing new, so that’s not quite as exciting.

If Apple adds touch input to the iMac, it wouldn’t be the first with an all-in-one, multi-touch desktop. HP has been selling its TouchSmart PCs for a while now. Swiveling the screen into a more touch-friendly position sounds like a useful innovation, though, as does a “smart” transition between mouse- and touch-friendly user interfaces. We’ll just have to see whether Apple actually does anything with this patent.

Comments closed
    • PixelArmy
    • 9 years ago

    *EDIT* Reply Fail

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 9 years ago

    Personally, I don’t think the whole “touch the screen” thing is a good idea. I like the idea that the TenGUI people came up with. Apple should just buy up those guys and utilize them.

    • reever
    • 9 years ago

    My god, what a paradigm shifter!

    • ludi
    • 9 years ago

    That diagram looks like 2/5s of a sprung clothespin.

    • Meadows
    • 9 years ago

    Those are some poorly drawn fingers. Where have Apple’s aesthetic standards disappeared to?

    • Chrispy_
    • 9 years ago

    TR needs a “delete post” button.

    • Chrispy_
    • 9 years ago

    Another overly broad patent that shows what a farce the US patent system is.

    Patenting things you can do with a hinge is just plain retarded. The patent office didn’t exist when the druids built Stonehenge (3500-5000 BC) and to assume that what you’re doing with a hinge warrants a patent is arrogant and stupid.

      • ludi
      • 9 years ago

      Point missed by a metric mile.

      First, this is a WIPO filing, not an issued US patent.

      Second, the patent application is for a user interface that transitions between two discrete input modes, one primarily mouse-based and the other primarily based on a touch-screen keyboard, including reconfiguring the screen and the applications in-use without interrupting them, when the user moves the unit from the upright position to the lowered position or vice-versa.

      If you want to review the application in detail and make a prior art argument, go for it, but it’s not actually all that broad.

        • sweatshopking
        • 9 years ago

        actually, saying “it changes when it hinges!!!!!” is pretty broad

          • ludi
          • 9 years ago

          No. They’re not trying to patent everything that changes when it hinges.

            • Chrispy_
            • 9 years ago

            A hinge that feeds input back to the OS to tell it what position the display is in is NOT new. In fact, it’s been around since very early tablet PC days (without the silly patent rubbish to monopolise and muddy the waters):

            Flip the screen hinge around and you’ve moved from laptop mode to tablet mode. Depending on your OS and model, you get some or all of the following:
            – Onscreen keyboard appears
            – Display rotates to portrait mode (or whatever you configured instead)
            – Touchpad cursor tools/settings are replaced by stylus ones.
            Flip the screen hinge back to laptop and you get a reversal.

            Forgive me for being pedantic, but what I’ve just described (common to even some ancient XP Tablet Edition devices) is pretty much what Apple are trying to patent. Replace stylus with finger, basically. Is apple trying to patent touch UI’s?

            As usual, this is nothing new, it’s just Apple seeing an opportunity for a competition-squashing patent and any lawsuits that are caused are just ‘free marketing’

    • Sargent Duck
    • 9 years ago

    Guys, you’re all missing it here. A touch screen on a Mac desktop is going to be great because Steve Jobs SAYS it’s going to be great. And thus all the sheeple will in one accord claim that this is the greatest thing since the ipad…which was the greatest thing since the iphone…which was the greatest thing since the ipod…which was the greatest thing since the world began.

    • blastdoor
    • 9 years ago

    This is the kind of thing that’s pretty hard for me to imagine using. I’m not saying that I wouldn’t use it, just that I can’t imagine it. I would need to really sit down and try it before I could tell if it’s practical/useful.

    • End User
    • 9 years ago

    Very interesting. I think it can work.

    • PixelArmy
    • 9 years ago

    Is this going to run OS X? Cause supposedly a desktop OS with a touch UI is a lost cause…

    Personally, I’d hate transitioning back and forth, though I’d think you would probably pick one mode or the other for extended periods of time.

      • reever
      • 9 years ago

      “Cause supposedly a desktop OS with a touch UI is a lost cause…” Says who? Apple?

        • PixelArmy
        • 9 years ago

        Usually an Apple fan whenever Windows 7 touch is brought up. Though it’s usually in the context of tablets, they rarely focus on portability issues (ie battery life) but rather on the touch UI.

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    i never use my touch screen. it sits there, being untouched. it’s too much work to reach ALL the way past my mouse.

    • Buzzard44
    • 9 years ago

    Is this just an overview of the patent, or can you actually patent something that broad? Seems like a patent troll would just patent all sorts of not-that-extraordinary ideas that this one and make big bucks when some big computer manufacturer actually wants to build a computer in that way.

      • axeman
      • 9 years ago

      l[

      • wobbles-grogan
      • 9 years ago

      And the whole patent debate begins…. 🙂

        • axeman
        • 9 years ago

        I patented emoticons, you owe me royalties now.

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