Apple ‘iMac Touch’ Patent : Apple has filed a patent application that indicates the company is looking to bring iPhone- and iPad-like touch capabilities to its Mac line of desktop computers.
The European patent was filed July 9, and shows a computer that can switch between mouse and touch-based input via an adjustable stand. Listed as inventor was Paul Costa, who is the hardware engineering manager at Apple. Uncovered by the Patently Apple blog, the filing shows an iMac-like computer, with an adjustable stand, which can keep the computer in an upright position, of tilt it horizontally, so you can use it more like an iPad.
To switch between the two modes the user simply grasps the edge of the monitor, where advanced touch sensors send a signal to the computer to change operating systems. The user will also be able to determine at precisely what angle the device stops acting as an iMac and when it becomes more like an iPad.
The patent, which is called ‘Transitioning with modes of input’ was filed with the World Intellectual Property Organisation on Jan 14.
The transition from standard to touch mode is made either via sensors in the computer, or by using the tilting stand. The idea behind this is that some applications are better suited for touchscreens (games, drawing, media consumption), while other are best used with a mouse and keyboard (spreadsheets, word processing).
To do this tech right, I think Apple has to regress a little bit to the days when an iMac had a lot of its internals in a base unit, then make the screen/tablet part as light as possible and easily detachable. Your mouse, keyboard, external hard drive and whatever else you have hanging off your system would all plug into the base unit. You could still use the tablet parts while attached to the rest if you wanted to, but as an option you could unplug and walk away. That sounds a lot more appealing to me.