A patent published today by the US Patent & Trademark Office details some brilliant new ideas from the most innovative computer company on the planet. Yes that’s right, Apple has a new patent and I must say I’m impressed, astounded, and excited.
The name of the patent is simply “Mechanical overlay” and the abstract describes the concept a bit further: “Mechanical overlays for placement over touch sensing devices…The mechanical overlays include one or more mechanical actuators that provide touch inputs to the touch sensing devices.”
Basically Apple has invented the concept for a device which instead of (or in addition to) possessing a keyboard, it has a touch sensitive surface on which mechanical parts overlay. The touch-sensitive surface reads the physical signals transmitted through the mechanical overlay. As seen in the picture above, some possible overlays are a traditional keyboard, a musical keyboard, and a mixing console. There is also a diagram which details different types of mechanical overlays for where a trackpad currently rests, allowing the addition of a clickwheel, joystick, number pad, and more.
Two other specific devices are mentioned in the patent with similar concepts: a portable handheld device and a touch screen tablet PC, both of which utilize similar mechanical overlays. This patent, if it ever sees the light of day, could mean great new specialized functions for laptop computers (think DJs, musicians, recording artists, video editors, and so much more).