New Apple patent hints at touch screen ecosystem

New Apple patent hints at touch screen ecosystem

Summary: A patent by Apple reveals more about what the company may be planning for its touch screen ecosystem.In a patent filed today, Apple outlines a backside interface for handheld devices.


A patent by Apple reveals more about what the company may be planning for its touch screen ecosystem.

In a patent filed today, Apple outlines a backside interface for handheld devices. In a nutshell, that means a device could have touch screens on both sides.

The details:

One of the surfaces (e.g., the bottom) includes a force-sensitive touch-surface through which a user provides input (e.g., cursor manipulation and control element selection). On a second surface (e.g., the top), a display element is used to present information appropriate to the device's function (e.g., video information), one or more control elements and a cursor. The cursor is controlled through manipulation of the back-side touch-surface. The cursor identifies where on the back-side touch-surface the user's finger has made contact. When the cursor is positioned over the desired control element, the user selects or activates the function associated with the control element by applying pressure to the force-sensitive touch-surface with their finger. Accordingly, the electronic device may be operated with a single hand, wherein cursor movement and control element selection may be accomplished without lifting one's finger.

Unwired View speculates that this touch screen could be applied to an iPhone Nano or next generation iPod. Why stop there though?

As discussed in March, there's a growing contingent of folks that believe the touch screen will be applied to all Apple products. In fact, the innovation contained in the iPhone may drive three to four years of new products. This patent is a step in that direction. As Engadget notes, this patent is quite believable.

Topics: Patents, Apple, Hardware, iPhone, Legal, Smartphones

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  • Not a touchscreen.

    Larry, reading the patent, this doesn't appear to be a touchscreen on both sides. The patent describes a display on top and a "force-sensitive touch-surface" on the bottom. IOW, it describes a mousepad placed on the back of a handheld device.

    Mousepads are well-worn territory. So is the concept of moving a cursor on a different screen, as described by the patent. That is, after all, what the ThinkPad I'm currently using does (Force-sensitivity and all).

    In short, except for the design (i.e. the pure placement of the controls), I'm hard-pressed to find anything newsworthy in the patent from a technical viewpoint.
    • That makes more sense the a dual touchscreen

      [it describes a mousepad placed on the back of a handheld device[i/]

      Something like what you described would allow one to manipulate a curser on a screen without obstructing the screen itself by guiding it from the reverse.

      A dual sided touch screen would make less sense as is not the whole idea of a touch screen phone the fact that the buttons are configurable in any way you desire? Maybe they are trying to achive what I mentioned above.
  • Now you've done it

    You are on Jobs hit list for revealing new products before he gave his blessing.
    • So - how are Zune sales?

      Keeping up to your bullish forecasts?

      I have yet to see one, but I live in hope.
    • PS: Yes, it's friday, I'm bored and I'm slinging slurry...

      ... or prodding an ants nest or trolling or whatever metaphor works for you; so don't mind me. Have a good weekend everyone.
  • Incompetence in Reporting

    Larry, you are supposed to be competent journalist, which means you do research and get your facts straight before heading to publication.

    Unfortunately for you, your incompetence for stating the facts accurately shines through in a simple blog like this. Apple does not have a patent, it has a patent application. It says so right on the page you have linked to in your blog. Also, the application was not filed today, it was published today. It was filed back in January, 2007. Again, the page you linked to clearly indicates these facts.

    If you cannot get simple facts straight for a basic blog subject like this, how are us readers supposed to trust you when you publish about more important matters? I, for one, don't think we can.
    • You are being kind of hard on him. Yes, he should have read it more

      carefully, but these guys are under pressure to produce more articles, and sometimes they have to skim and write as fast as they can. In this case, he did not fully understand the significance of what he was reading with a quick read.

      But, thanks Larry for bringing it to our attention, this is very interesting, thought should not be patentable.
      • I have expectations I ask professionals to meet

        You have a very low expectation for professionals. Me, if someone holds himself out as a professional journalist, at the very least I expect accuracy with the clearly evident details. I am not asking him to conduct in depth reporting for his blog (it's only a blog, for crying out loud), but if a link is provided, I expect him to have read it, understood it, and report the contents accurately.

        ZDNET isn't some third rate, citizen-owned blog, after all. It's a corporation which holds itself and its employees out as being some of the best and most knowledgeable in the tech reporting business. Not only do mistakes like Larry's reflect poorly on him as a professional, they reflect poorly on ZDNET as a responsible news organization.

        I know I'm repeating myself, but if he can't get simple stuff accurate for a short blog, how can we trust him to get anything right when it's important and matters to us?
        • ZDNet is a sister site of C|Net. <N/T>

          Grayson Peddie
  • What is Apple going to patent next?

    [i]Today, Apple patented the concept of having a video presentation unit on one side (referred to as the "front") and a series of input jacks on the other side (referred to as the "back").[/i]

    Next up: Apple sues all makers of TVs, monitors, etc. How pathetic is a company that patents the [b]location[/b] of things!?!?
    • Dude have your doctor change your meds or something...:)

      Have you seen all the silly patent suites against Apple over the past few years?
      Companies that no one know existed or hardly existed at all or existed primarily on
      paper only come out of the wood work with obscure patents and sometimes they
      succeed on the most obvious of uses for technology. Now I hope Apple is only doing
      this to protect themselves from further lawsuites however sadly it wold not shock me
      if they tried to use this as yet another industry standard tool to bring down or hurt
      competition somthing I strongly disagree with even IF Apple does it.

      Pagan jim
  • I'll patent a device that's cube-shaped & all 6 sides can be touch screens.


    What next, suing HP for the name "iPaq", a PDA whose name and origins are slightly older than "iPod" -- and never had any battery problems or eco-unfriendly kooks ditching bad ipod batteries wherever they saw fit?! ( - quite a good resource, and guess who's been on their board since 2003?)
    • I'll patent the spherical touch screen

      By approving frivolous patents the patent office is just creating a feeding frenzy that they can use as evidence for more funding.
  • All patents must die [nt]

  • If this is a Winner Will the Zune Also Have It?

    And will Microsoft call it an innovation?

    Speaking of the Zune - I have yet to see one. Didn't No_Ax_To_Grind believe they would outsell the ipod or some daft comment like that?
  • Apple news is good

    Iam apple fans I welcome all news from this firm for Mac wevsite.R.
  • Apple news is good

    Iam apple fans I welcome all news from this firm for Mac website.R.
  • He is also missing the point elsewhere

    If you read the patent he quotes, the gist is NOT having two or more touch-screen surfaces. It is having ONE screen for display only (and keeping your greasy fingers away from it) and ANOTHER to put your (greasy again) fingers in and cause a cursor on the ONE screen to move and act.
    Apple is also clueless in that they are trying to re-patent the TouchPad, which was already patented and in use by Synaptics back in 2000 something.