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Dual-Sided Touch Panels for iPhones, MacBooks, Tablets?

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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A new Apple patent application reveals that Apple has been working on some unique approaches to incorporating touch interfaces into future iPhones and MacBooks.

Apple introduces the idea of a double-sided translucent touch surface. This touch surface would be sensitive to touch on both sides. When placed as the bottom half of a traditional laptop:


It could function as a multi-touch keyboard including the use of multi-touch gestures. When the user closed the laptop, however, the other side of the touch screen could act as a multi-touch overlap to the screen -- giving the device a tablet-like form factor.

http://images.macrumors.com/article/2008/03/17/144211-Picture 14.png

Apple also explores the possibilities of incorporating a similar translucent touch pad to offer a mobile phone with similar capabilities.

Article Link
 

hockeysc23

macrumors regular
Sep 6, 2007
127
0
As long as there is another patent for how to keep the touch screen from smudge marks Id get one.
 
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skorpien

macrumors 68020
Jan 14, 2008
2,339
0
Oooh! Now THIS I could get used to! It'd be perfect for touch typists, and it would be GREAT for graphic artists :D Just hope they let us use a stylus with this... Way to go Apple!
 
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Motley

macrumors 6502
Dec 11, 2005
454
0
So all the guts of the comp would be behind the screen? Seems like that wouldn't work out weight distribution wise, it'd keep tipping over. Interesting idea though.
 
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asdavis10

macrumors 6502
Feb 3, 2008
454
2,467
Bermuda
This is exciting to see what Apple is developing. I'm only thinking about how much AppleCare would cost for something like that.
 
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rikers_mailbox

macrumors 6502a
Sep 27, 2003
739
0
LA-la-land
Wash your hands?

** otherwise known as "a method for removal and prevention of undesirable foreign contaminants on a touch-based computer display interface"

Apple probably owns that patent already. Expect to be sued in the near future for washing your hands without paying.
 
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sleepingworker

macrumors 6502a
Feb 26, 2003
579
0
Manhattan, NY
Read this earlier at Appleinsider. Bad news for all those who love analogue keypads and great news for the rest of us. I look forward to when Photoshop and other design programs have touch capabilities - especially with a screen overlay.
 
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notjustjay

macrumors 603
Sep 19, 2003
6,052
159
Canada, eh?
So the touch surface would be transparent?

What would be cool is if it, somehow, was a transparent LCD/OLED display... so it could display the shape of a keyboard or anything, like that keyboard we keep hearing about, but you could also turn off all the displays and have it just look like a transparent glass overlay.

I'm still hesitant about typing on a flat surface, though. I'm still not convinced that would be anywhere near as efficient as real clicking keys, despite what Star Trek would like you to believe. :)
 
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asdavis10

macrumors 6502
Feb 3, 2008
454
2,467
Bermuda
So all the guts of the comp would be behind the screen? Seems like that wouldn't work out weight distribution wise, it'd keep tipping over. Interesting idea though.

Yeah I agree. Instead of making a laptop that can be a tablet, they should just have two separate products. The keys and trackpad on a laptop should just be replaced by one large touchpad that you can type on. And then have a tablet that is just that.
 
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MattJessop

macrumors regular
Apr 24, 2007
215
42
Manchester, UK
Ok, Apple, I just keep on loving you more and more :D Even when you do act like jerks sometimes. This makes up for it.

Cool... but how do you know what side to put down so it doesn't get scratched? :cool:

I would assume they'd be coated with the same thing as the iPhone and touch, so that they'd be pretty immure to scratch marks. I swear, my iPod touch is still beautiful clean (on the front, the backs gone to hell unfortunately)
 
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bentup

macrumors member
Sep 8, 2007
50
0
San Francisco
I would like the transparent OLED... if its possible. Without any tactile OR visual response, I wouldn't know where to type. Cool idea tho! You could carry around a photocopy of a keyboard and put it under the "keypad" i guess, lol
 
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onionperson654

macrumors regular
Aug 26, 2007
214
0
Cool, but where does the computer go?

That may be the most insightful comment I have ever read on Macrumors.


This appears to be one of the more strange pieces of technology suggested by Apple, and not the most practical. While it makes some sense for a tablet like device that could have a pull out keyboard when needed, it seems like it would only save as much space as the keyboard, which can be pretty thin these days. Imagine the Macbook Air as a conventional tablet; pretty sweet, right? But then put all of its hardware in the screen and add this invention. The only differences would be a harder to use keyboard and a topheavy machine (wouldn't it tip over all the time?). Except for the most specialized software, multi-touch directly on the screen would be preferable as an interface for tasks such as drawing.

Would it not be better to make a normal tablet like notebook with a screen that can swivel, and add multi-touch to that?

Where this could have more traction is in non-laptop devices, such as moniters (which would then become computers and should just use a keyboard). Perhaps most promising would be iphones and ipods. Added with this other recent Apple patent, this could be a powerful iphone nano (http://www.electronista.com/articles/08/03/17/apple.dual.side.touchpad/)
It would solve the problem of having a touch screen too small to use because one's fingers would cover it up.

Is summation, this patent doesn't appear to be a great innovation by itself, but could prove ingenious with future technological changes. Don't expect it this year, but it could come out in a couple, and become a game changer in five.
 
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CHSE

macrumors newbie
Nov 29, 2005
24
1
Is this really useful?

So what would be the difference to a separate touch-screen and a flat keyboard you can fold back behind the screen. That would be so much easier to accomplish and there would be no gap between touch-keyboard and screen.
 
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Bertmg

macrumors member
Feb 8, 2008
47
0
San Diego, CA
NICE... I hope they inplement it well

Apple is known for being on top of innovation, but as much as a fan I am, sometimes they really crew it up and never admit (this would be a totally new forum thread for the Apple puritans).


For thsi case, if implemented right it could be another breakthrough. A laptop that turns into a tablet would be great for everyone (hopefuly graphics programs will support this new functionality), the other screen side of the design may be usless in this case. This double screen design in an iPhone or iPod Touch caould be one of the best implementations. To keep this small devices from flipping, they would require to have some type of stand or leg to keep the screen at a viewable angle without tipping.
 
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BrownManUPS

macrumors 6502a
Jul 30, 2007
823
22
California
Cool, but where does the computer go?

Good catch.

If anything, behind the monitor I guess. If apple can fit all that crap into a macbook air, perhaps this is very possible. But technology has to keep shrinking like it has been for the past few years for it to be plausible at all.
 
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krye

macrumors 68000
Aug 21, 2007
1,606
1
USA
This is a CYA patent and we'll likely never see it in any Apple product, unless they are planning on spending the whole $19 billion on R&D.
 
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ibwb

macrumors regular
Mar 7, 2006
170
21
So the touch surface would be transparent?

What would be cool is if it, somehow, was a transparent LCD/OLED display... so it could display the shape of a keyboard or anything, like that keyboard we keep hearing about, but you could also turn off all the displays and have it just look like a transparent glass overlay.

I'm still hesitant about typing on a flat surface, though. I'm still not convinced that would be anywhere near as efficient as real clicking keys, despite what Star Trek would like you to believe. :)

I think we can all assume that Apple is hard at work on a replacement for the physical keyboard.

Think about it -- on a multi-touch surface of this size, you could really express way more information with your hands than you can with a keyboard. In other words, the overall bandwidth is potentially greater. It should be possible to use this in a way that improves on a physical keyboard, if you're willing to branch out a little beyond the touchscreen keyboard metaphor.

It's true that people have tried to replace the keyboard before and met with limited success, but it's usually been because the devices have a lower inherent bandwidth. Consider the stylus method of the early Palms, or the chorded keyboards limited to 20 buttons or so -- low bandwidth. Ten fingers on a multi-touch surface could do much better than that, though it would take years of R&D to perfect it.
 
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