Apple Patent Hints at Touchscreen iMac Model

A new iMac Touch model could be in the works over at Apple. Maybe. That's the speculation after the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that describes a desktop system with virtual control on a touchscreen. It's far too early to tell if that's what Apple is up to, but with so many all-in-one (AIO) PCs now supporting touchscreen input, it makes sense that Apple would add one of its own.

Of course, Apple never seems to do anything without adding a twist, and this is no exception. According to Patently Apple, the patent application has to do with a new hybrid knob/slider control that would replace traditional knob controls (see illustration below).

Source: Patently Apple

"The visual augmentation could include displaying an outline and/or fill region (e.g. a color or pattern fill) around the knob element, displaying text labels for minimum and maximum range limit values and displaying a slider element with the knob element," Patently Apple says. "The slider element could include a fill bar to indicate the current value of the knob control.

"A second user input could be detected that is indicative of a change of the value of the knob element. The second input could be a linear motion on or near the slider element. In response to the second user input, both the fill bar of the slider element and a fill portion of the knob element could be visually augmented to indicate the change in the value."

The verbiage gets decidedly geekier as it goes on, but one thing's that clear is that the patent application places a lot of emphasis on how the technology would apply to a touchscreen based desktop.