Apple R&D filing shows next-gen interface

Apple’s ever-active development and research team continues to purchase new interface technologies.

Recent patents suggest the business’s usability boffins are exploring technology to build up future connects. The moves appear to point out tries to extend existing paradigms for computer connects, namely the keyboard and mouse controllers that defined personal computing using the discharge of the very first Apple computer.

A brand new May 2005 patent filing was printed through the US Patent and Trademark Office yesterday. The patent, which stretches an earlier patent for colour-altering iMacs, now appears to explain a multi-purpose touch interface which may let customers control a piece of equipment through their selection of mechanical control systems, known as “mechanical overlays”.

These overlays might be audio equalisers, music keyboards or other controller. The filing describes several good examples of methods the machine might be used in both notebook computer systems and handheld products, certainly iPods.

“The touch-sensing input device is capable of doing sensing the mechanical inputs supplied by the mechanical overlay and resulting in the host computing device to reply to individuals inputs,” Apple stated. “The inputs from the mechanical overlay might be assignable or they might be configured for the use of the host computing device.

The filing describes that lots of input products for controlling electronic systems now exist, but adds: “Regrettably, these conventional approaches don’t fully satisfy user needs. For instance, the rudimentary mechanical controls are usually fixed and inflexible (not easily modified or configured for any new task). Further, each one of these includes electronic hardware that increases the price of the unit. In large control sections, including numerous mechanical controls, the expense could be exorbitantly high.”

The filing also criticises existing touch-based systems for the possible lack of direct feedback customers receive once they rely on them. “As a result, the consumer doesn’t know once the device has created an impression input,” it describes.

After that it expains multiple ways this kind of interface perform: being an input controller, an impression sensitive device, an analog overlay to some touch sensitive device.