Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Apple's R&D hints at next-gen user interface

Apple working on new user interface designs ...

"Apple's ever-active research and development team continues to invest in new user interface technologies.

Recent patents suggest the company's usability scientists are exploring new technologies to develop future interfaces. The moves seem to suggest attempts to extend existing paradigms for computer interfaces, namely the mouse and keyboard controllers that defined personal computing with the release of the first Apple computer.

A new May 2005 patent filing was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office Thursday. The patent, which extends a previous patent for colour-changing iMacs, now seems to describe a multi-purpose touch interface which would let users control a machine through their choice of mechanical control systems, called "mechanical overlays."

These overlays could be audio equalizers, music keyboards or any other controller. The filing explains several examples of how the system could be applied in both notebook computers and handheld devices, conceivably iPods.

"The touch-sensing input device is capable of sensing the mechanical inputs provided by the mechanical overlay and causing the host computing device to respond to those inputs," Apple said. "The inputs of the mechanical overlay may be assignable or they may be configured for a particular application of the host computing device."    (Continued via Digit news)    [Usability Resources]

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