updated 09:45 am EDT, Thu May 10, 2007
Apple Backside Touch
Apple has developed a patent that may point the way towards smaller iPhones and touch-sensitive iPods, according to a filing published today. Titled "Back-Side Interface for Hand-Held Devices," the patent hopes to resolve the problem of including touch-sensitive input on smaller screens where the user's hand would obscure the content. The solution described would include a touch-sensitive surface on the opposite side of the screen: users would direct a cursor on the main screen by gliding a finger along the back surface corresponding to the control, triggering actions by applying extra pressure.
The technology would not only save space but would solve some of the other problems inherent to touchscreens, according to Apple. The use of touch controls on the reverse face would eliminate smudging without resorting to the use of a stylus. Owners of a theoretical future device could control many functions with one hand.
Importantly, the company's patent application has direct implications for both future iPods and iPhones. Illustrations contained within the patent show the main screen's interface allowing an on-screen overlay of the signature iPod click wheel as well as a keypad for placing phone calls or a keyboard for text entry. It could also address PDA-style functions, the firm adds in its claims.
Apple's patent was notably filed on January 5th, just a few days before the official announcement of the iPhone.
(image via Unwired View)