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You've got tech vendors and unnamed sources leaking like mad various
tidbits about the hardware and software specs, while publishers and
content providers suggest a whole new market share for Apple to
conquer. Then you've got this.
In a recently revealed patent application, we learn that Apple is seeking protection for touchscreen technologies that contain "unprecedented integration of typing, resting, pointing, scrolling, 3D manipulation, and handwriting into a versatile, ergonomic computer input device." The level of detail and particularity involved in what the patent envisions goes beyond theoretical, in our opinion, and walks right up to the door of tech specs.
For instance, note the level of specificity in the accompanying flow chart below:
document makes pretty clear that Apple envisions a device that not only
allows for the same kind of touchscreen interaction as the iPhone, but
an expanded and far more complex touch response architecture. Are two
fingers touching at the same time? What about more than two fingers?
Are the multiple fingers moving as part of a multi-finger command or is
it simply all the fingers moving at once in sync, as in pulling your
hands away from the screen or picking up the tablet with all fingers
touching it? Are the hand gestures decelerating, and if so does that
indicate a cancellation of the original command request?
While many reports have suggested that the rumored tablet might not be designed to compete in the netbook market, Apple clearly envisions a device that integrates a touch screen keyboard, the patent showing hands in clear typing position. Likewise, much of the documentation is specifically about typing. The document also goes in to detail about the touchscreen's adaptability to hand gesture commands, addressing the lack of need for a stylus or a mouse or really any kind of peripheral device for on-screen controls.
While the patent application gives partial credit to Fingerworks, a company Apple bought up during the quest to deliver the iPhone, the essential two-handedness of the patent points to newer, larger technologies than the iPhone's screen real estate would allow. Two-handed typing on-screen also rules out the previously mentioned 7" screen, as such a size would involve crowding the users' hands together in what can only be considered a non-ergonomic fashion. A 10.7-inch touch screen is only fractionally smaller than the space necessary for the standard iMac keyboard.
As far as smoking guns go, we'd have to rank this pretty high up there.