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Apple investigates next-generation user interface

Apple’s ever-active research and development team continues its research on user interface technologies. Recent patents suggest that Apple is exploring the development of new interfaces. The movements seem to suggest the extension of the current paradigms of user interfaces; that is, the keyboard and mouse drivers that defined personal computing with the appearance of the first Macintosh computer.

The US Patent and Trademark Office has published a new patent application made in May 2005 by Apple. This patent extends a previous patent related to iMac and that now seems to describe a multi-purpose touch interface that would allow users to control the computer through a variety of mechanical control systems, called “mechanical layers.”

These layers could consist of audio equalizers, musical keyboards or any other type of controller. The application shows several examples of how such systems could be applied in portable computers and handheld devices, such as iPods.

The application also indicates that there are currently a number of input devices that allow controlling systems, but adds: “Unfortunately, these types of conventional implementations do not fully meet user needs. For example, mechanical controls tend to be inflexible. and fixed type (without the possibility that they can be easily configured to carry out a new task). Additionally, each of these includes electronic hardware that increases the cost of the device. “

The application also affects current touch-type systems, on which the absence of feedback for the user is attributed. Finally, it provides multiple examples of how this type of interface could work: as an input controller, a touch device, a mechanical layer or a touch-sensitive device.

Details on said patent can be consulted on this web page