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Apple patent would allow iPhone clamshell

updated 11:05 am EDT, Mon March 17, 2008

Apple Dual-Side Touchpad

Apple has developed a technique that could allow for a smaller iPhone with all the controls but half the size, according to a recent WIPO international patent filing. Described as a "dual sided trackpad," the primary variant on the invention would have a translucent cover with a capacitive, multi-touch trackpad that accepts input on either side and can activate controls depending on the pad's position.

The pad could therefore be attached to a small handheld device through a hinge and switch its functionality depending on whether it was open or closed: while a closed trackpad would simply serve as a substitute for the main touchscreen, an open position could provide a separate pad for dialing numbers or an interface for gestures and scrolling. This touchscreen could have its own basic display for these features.

A second iteration of the patent could also apply to computers and would have the dual trackpad replace the conventional, opaque surface on a notebook such as the MacBook Air; while acting as a traditional trackpad when the computer is open, a fully shut notebook would switch input to the outside and use it as an external interactive display for checking e-mail, playing music, and other simple actions, similar to Windows Vista's SideShow.

Apple is not under any obligation to use the patent and may require translucent display technology not yet readily available to implement the technique, which would require capacitive sensors thin enough to be near-invisible. However, Apple describes the patent as applying to "mobile telephones," other handhelds, and computers. It also uses images which appear to be partly derived from the iPhone's interface for mail and menus. [via Unwired View]



iPhone mockup based on patent



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. danviento

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2005

    0

    covering their bases

    As per usual, Apple puts out a patent that may or may not be used, but doesn't want someone else to come out with something ahead of them.

    It's like their saying "nyah nyah," to all the other hardware designer/manufacturers who try to take the iPhone to the next step. As it is, it's all they can do to copy what's already there. ;-)

  1. ApeInTheShell

    Senior User

    Joined: Nov 2002

    0

    clamshell?

    I was thinking the newton form factor. This looks like mockup of the flip phone designs on the web.

  1. lamewing

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Aug 2004

    0

    And yet

    And yet, when Apple uses a patent that someone else has sat on simply because the technology wasn't available at the time everybody jumps all over said person, and defending Apple.

  1. nat

    Junior Member

    Joined: Mar 2002

    0

    hmmm...

    so you're saying that there exists a flip open that is dynamic? that can change according to what's displayed? whether a keyboard or notepad or...? this exists and apple's copying it? where?

  1. petsounds

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2007

    0

    iPhone mini

    Looks like a possible future design for an iPhone mini. It's pretty clear that Apple will begin to go down into the cheaper phone range to expand their control of the phone market. A midrange phone like this would fit the bill.

  1. jmelrose

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Mar 1999

    0

    jmelrose

    nat, don't be dense.

    lamewing is obviously referring to the multiple law suits against Apple for patents that were filed 5-10 years prior to iTunes/iPod for "portable music devices" and "methods to transfer music to a portable player" and "method for selling music over wide area network" etc. Those companies couldn't or didn't chose to produce the product, and there is definitely an outcry when those companies then try to protect their patent via lawsuit. There is a very long tradition, as lamewing pointed out, of people on these and other Apple fan forums "jumping all over" companies that defend those patents, even if they are never used.

    While I think there are aspects of the patent process that are ridiculous, I'm not making statements about that. I do like that lamewing made a self-fulfilling prophecy that came true in just one post.

    nat, if you need further explanation... well, I feel bad for ya. Can't help ya any more... I'm sure someone as smugly self-righteous as you can figure things out for themself. Except, obviously, lamewing's comment.

  1. nat

    Junior Member

    Joined: Mar 2002

    0

    jmelrose

    i was referring to danv's post, but hey, thanks for the compliments and the time you took to write explaining to me something i wasn't questioning. simply excellent stuff. you'll always be no. 1 in my book.

  1. pt123

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2007

    0

    flip

    Awesome if Apple had a flip phone, like the Motorola RAZR.

  1. malax

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2006

    0

    prototype?

    Don't you need at least a prototype or working model before you patent something? You have to have more than a clever idea. A two-side touch-sensitive transparent display surface is pretty darn cool. And whoever suggested it is right, applying this to a tablet/laptop combo would be pretty slick. Open it up and the transparent cover turns into a virtual keyboard and trackpad. This is real sci-fi whiz-bang-ery.

  1. Guest

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 1999

    0

    jmelrose

    Testudo, is that you? If not this person is stealing your writing style!

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