A new patent filing reveals Apple’s experimentation with a touch-sensitive MacBook chassis, which would offer the ability to sense a user’s touch across a notebook’s entire bezel, potentially allowing the company to eliminate physical buttons and allow for a more intuitive computing experience.
Apple’s continued interest in taking touch input and extending it beyond the trackpad was disclosed in a newly awarded patent discovered on Tuesday by AppleInsider. Entitled “Housing as an I/O device,” U.S. Patent No. 8,654,524 describes a notebook housing intended not only to hold and protect the parts inside, but also serve as an input/output device, allowing users to control the Mac through touching the chassis.
The newly granted patent isn’t the first time Apple has shown interest in extending touch controls to a greater surface area on its MacBooks. Just last month, it was awarded a patent for a rear touch input concept for a unique solar-powered MacBook with a two-sided display, while last month the company showed interest in building a trackpad without a traditional “clickable” button, instead providing users with tactile feedback through an actuator, and sensing clicks through four or more force sensors.
In the latest granted patent, Apple describes a notebook housing where the external walls would accept user input and react to where they touch the device. In one example, a user could place their fingertip around a MacBook’s USB port, the system could automatically display a window with USB-specific options, or simply say the term “USB” aloud to inform a user of the name of the port.
Touch controls could even be extended to the exterior of the MacBook display, as the invention notes that a user could invoke video conferencing by placing their finger near the notebook’s forward facing FaceTime camera located above the screen.
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