Apple patents a touchscreen for notebooks; TouchBook, anybody?

Apple made it very clear at the iLife ’11 launch event that touchscreen monitors weren’t the way of the future. It was mentioned at that event that vertical touchscreens were more of a nuisance than an innovation because it required you to keep your arm uncomfortably raised while using it. It’s definitely a valid point, but according to patents unearthed by patentlyapple, never say never.

In a series of patents filed by Apple this week, one patent relating to integrated touchscreens was certainly notable. It briefly describes the functionality of the improved technology across many platforms, including mobile devices and, most importantly, notebooks. This could point to the next iteration of Macbook releases having touchscreen functionality, but Apple has very characteristically made no mention of such a feature.

Of course, just because a patent was filed for a notebook touchscreen doesn’t mean we necessarily have to jump to a conclusion that the next Macbook will be an iPad with a keyboard (even though Apple may actually be leaning towards this with the release of OS X Lion), and it could just mean that there will be aspects of the user interface in the future that are responsive to touch. This really is all conjecture, and the more important point is that Apple may be changing its tune when it comes to vertical touchscreens.

It wouldn’t be the first time a vertical touchscreen was implemented, either. There has been a trend among desktop PC manufacturers to release “All-In-One” PCs that feature a large touchscreen monitor. As far as we’re concerned, this trend never really took off among the consumer base, and the touchscreen aspect is seen more as a nice feature and something cool to show off to friends rather than being an integral part of the user interface. If Apple can pull off a touchscreen laptop that isn’t a swivel tablet, and is something that people will actually use primarily, they could be on the brink of another innovation in mobile computing that will undeniably change the display market going forward.

Image Credit: bitrebels

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If you want to buy a Mac, now is the time to, before they release Lion. Reason being is that I have seen the iPad. I didn't like it. It isn't a phone and it isn't a computer. For $500 more, I could buy a real Mac. Lion is going to turn the Mac into an iPad with a keyboard and a mouse. And with the touchscreen factor, you could eliminate the mouse. I will hate Apple next year.

GmanWinner1 said,
If you want to buy a Mac, now is the time to, before they release Lion. Reason being is that I have seen the iPad. I didn't like it. It isn't a phone and it isn't a computer. For $500 more, I could buy a real Mac. Lion is going to turn the Mac into an iPad with a keyboard and a mouse. And with the touchscreen factor, you could eliminate the mouse. I will hate Apple next year.

Lion is does not replace the traditional desktop so I have no clue what you are harping about. Everything you can do now will still be possible with little to no difference. They are adding a program that launches an iOS style display to use apps with that has no effect on the actual desktop. Take your tin foil hat somewhere else please.

I am very happy with my Touchpad on my Macbook...NO need for a touchscreen...i always prefer the trackpad of my Macbook over my iPad's touchscreen...

Shadrack, really? Don't read too much into any of this, and no, not a TouchBook. Check MacRumors--there are stories of Apple patenting stuff all the time. HP does it, Dell does it. Companies submit thousands and thousands of these things each year and rarely do these features make it into products. And technology and methodology covered in a patent rarely makes it into a product quickly--it usually takes years many, many, many months or years. Less than a month ago: http://www.informationweek.com...e.jhtml?articleID=228400171

Plus, Apple's not dumb enough to create a "TouchBook". As we all know, users fatigue quickly with this method. Even Steve Jobs brought this up a couple months ago regarding this EXACT concept (see OS X Lion sneak peak). “Touch surfaces don't want to be vertical...” “After an extended period of time, your arm wants to fall off… touch surfaces want to be horizontal, hence pads.”

I very much commend the author of this article, though, as it is safely skeptical and I love the Minority Report shot!

Computer companies, including Apple, are now desperately searching for new ways to make people upgrade their current computers. Truth is, the reason why they should upgrade is getting boring every new year that comes.

Makes sense for them to look in this direct after the past articles about putting iOS on a layer above OSX. Using iOS apps would be annoying to do with a mouse in some instances. Allowing for mobile apps to be used on a laptop/desktop would possibly lead to touch screens being the standard. I think one of the reasons they failed in the past was the lack of software built specifically for touch screen systems.

Adding pictures of the actual patent from the link would be much more informative than yet another Minority Report screen shot.

Even though touchscreen computers, even laptops, have existed for quite a while, I have no doubt that when Apple releases one it will be hailed as a giant leap forward in technology and "true innovation" by the media and the masses of fanboys. ;-)

fuzi0719 said,
Even though touchscreen computers, even laptops, have existed for quite a while, I have no doubt that when Apple releases one it will be hailed as a giant leap forward in technology and "true innovation" by the media and the masses of fanboys. ;-)

It is already happening, scroll back up and read the article. Steve Jobs couldn't have issued a better press release himself, with the exception that the word 'magical' wasn't used enough.

I am still twitching from the raves of the multi-touch touchpads Apple 'invented' that revolutionized notebooks a few years ago. (Especially when I owned a laptop with multi-touch touchpad with gestures about 4 years before that awesome Apple 'invention'.)

Casio watches had handwriting recognition touchscreens back in 1983, and sadly we are still seeing idiots and research impaired writers proclaim everything Apple introduces as an invention or innovation. Even these 'magical' inventions like the iPhone still don't have the basic numerical handwriting recognition features of the 1983 Casio watch.

I don't get how people confuse marketing and packaging with innovation or inventions.

Does this mean any company that include touch screen on notebook need to pay royalty to Apple???
what will happen to all tablet PC?

still1 said,
Does this mean any company that include touch screen on notebook need to pay royalty to Apple???
what will happen to all tablet PC?

If they don't want to pay a royalty fee, they can wait 20 years till the patent expires. Since this is a design patent, I believe it's only 14 years.

still1 said,
Does this mean any company that include touch screen on notebook need to pay royalty to Apple???
what will happen to all tablet PC?

That would imply that this patent had prior art, which is grounds for throwing out the patent. A company can't really patent something and then, as a consequence, tell others to GTFO. So the patent is probably written to be more specific than that, and there to protect a particular product.

still1 said,
Does this mean any company that include touch screen on notebook need to pay royalty to Apple???
what will happen to all tablet PC?

I'm going to take a guess and say that this "touchscreen" is actually a touchpad with a mini LCD, kind of like the nintendo ds. Anyone agree?