Apple's multi-touch trackpad patent

Apple's multi-touch trackpad patent

Summary: We all know and love the multi-touch interface on iPhone but what about using it on other devices? Multi-touch was rumored to be included in the new iMacs, but that didn't materialize.

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Multi-touch MacBooks coming from Apple?

We all know and love the multi-touch interface on iPhone but what about using it on other devices? Multi-touch was rumored to be included in the new iMacs, but that didn't materialize. It has also been suggested that multi-touch could show up in an upcoming refresh of Apple's monitors.

A recent extension to a patent Apple filed in 2004 (thanks Gizmodo) shows that they may extend the technology to their notebook lineup.

If you're paranoid about marring your beautiful glossy screen, fear not fair citizen. This version of multi-touch will allow you to use multiple finger gestures on an extra-wide trackpad, instead of touching the screen.

Topics: Laptops, Apple, Legal, Mobility

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20 comments
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  • is Apple going to allow OSS to use this patent for free?

    It's time for Apple to show it's commitment to OSS and give Linux a competitive advantage against windoze!
    Linux Geek
    • huh?

      This is mostly a hardware patent, what would the OSS do with it?
      Stuka
      • Not only that...

        ...But it's a patent by Apple - a company notorious for having a VERY closed ecosystem - tighter than a nervous virgin's knees.

        Like Steve Jobs would let a bunch of freeloaders have access to this technology IF he thinks he can make a buck off of it.

        Let the poor delusional fool think Apple will come to Linux's rescue...
        Wolfie2K3
  • What did they do:

    get an employee's kid to draw the diagrams?
    John Zern
    • maybe

      they used MacDraw?

      besides, they dont have to give explicit details. its about ideas if im not mistaken. i'll have to research that after work
      richvball44
    • I was just wondering

      the same thing. I haven't looked at many patents in my life, but I have seen a few. You'd think with a company which is so professional with their designs and the look and feel of their hardware, they could come up with something a wee bit more professional.

      Makes one wonder how they get from scriblings of that quality to an iMac.
      Badgered
      • Perhaps that is why they are the way they are...

        Are not patent applications public and if they get too detailed might Apple be letting
        the cat out of the bag in many cases? Something Apple is famous for not wanting to
        do.

        Pagan jim
        Laff
        • That is a problem..

          with the patent system. My father, who has held about 15 patents in the US, and
          several overseas, stopped patenting things for some time. As soon as the
          application was filed, he had people ripping off his ideas.
          msalzberg
  • Prior Art

    It's cool technology but it isn't really new. An example is the projected keyboard used with PDAs. I plug my Palm in and it projects a full size keyboard onto the table top. Then I type as if it's a standard keyboard.It tracks the position of my hands and fingers and responds as data entry. Even the touch screen on the Palm is still active. If this is anything, it's a modification of an existing technology. Personnaly I don't think that's worth a patent. But then that's the problem with the patent system. Take someone elses idea, add one different feature (left handed vrs right handed screws) and PRESTO!! a new pantentable idea. I don't think you should be able to pantent ideas unless you have a working prototype.
    Scubajrr
    • I have to agree... PDA ... Grapic Tablet...

      They're pretty much all the same as this.
      This is but a modification of those ideas.
      I think the basic software may be copyrighted , but not the general idea of a touch pad. Unless I'm missing something..


      and remember, I like Apple.
      el1jones
      • Apple touch screen is different

        It is the first touch screen to effectively incorporate gesturing. This is due to the physical screen and the software. All the other touch screens out there only register one touch at a time. Apples registers 12 or 13 at the exact same time. From my understanding, the technology, the physical, and the concept have been heavily patented by Apple. Unless someone finds a loop hole in the Apple patents, no one else is going to come close to touching this one (ha ha). Hence the reason Microsoft is floundering with a web cam on a stick. it's really quite pitiful and painful to watch their "break through" technology videos. It's a web cam.. on a stick, and it has to pick up your fingers.. and the lag is extremely painful.
        i8thecat
  • Microsoft Surface is multitouch

    I wonder how much different the Apple patent is from what Surface does?
    PB_z
    • Different approaches & technologies

      Both technologies can be patented as they are different. The only
      thing I understand about the differences is that the MS approach
      fits on a large table top and Apples goes down to the size of the
      iPhone.
      Ken_z
      • But size is not patentable

        If the techology differs yet can both be scaled, both could find their way to tabletops and laptops.
        GuidingLight
        • That's a big if..

          I think that Microsoft's system uses cameras as sensors, so scaling down would be
          difficult.
          msalzberg
  • I would prefer an iPhone type keyboard

    on my MacBook.

    Quieter, can correct errors, put more useful buttons, keyboard could change
    languages (I type in 3) when I need it, etc.
    mlindl
  • Bad idea

    I've tried track pads on my Windows laptop(two button, not too good) and my Wife's Macbook (one button--ick, and the gestures are too weird to try to learn). I'm underwhelmed.

    Making the track pad wider and able to detect multiple touches won't help; I'd just have to disable it as that big trackpad is where I would normally rest my hands.

    Ultimately I prefer using a mouse, as it's easy to use and is replaceable.
    gypkap@...
    • Preferences

      And I've come to prefer my Wacom tablet, but there are times when the "attachments" are inconvenient and an integrated solution, such as the trackpad, becomes quite essential.
      fde101
  • All patents must die [nt]

    .
    Omch'Ar
    • Hardly

      Patents exist for a reason, and when correctly handled, are quite an advantage for inventors.

      However, I do agree that many of the patents which currently exist never should have been granted.

      The concept of a patent, as originally intended, is a very good one, but our system has become corrupt and is heavily abused. I would certainly agree that some reform is needed.
      fde101