A series of patents may detail the user interface of Apple’s tablet, which could be unveiled in January. At the heart of ‘surprising‘ method for users to interact with the much-awaited device is what the Cupertino, Calif. company describes as an ‘articulated frame.’
“The articulating frame may provide key edge ridges that define the boundaries of the key regions or may provide tactile feedback mechanisms within the key regions,” according to an application entitled “Keystroke Tactility Arrangement on a Smooth Touch Surface” uncovered earlier this week.
The user interface could be configured “to cause concave depressions similar to mechanical key caps in the surface,” adds the patent application. Reportedly, the depressions would vanish when a keyboard is not required.
To find the best medium for both typing and pointing, the interface would include a screen with key edge ridges that would not hamper multi-touch interaction. “The key edge ridges should separate[d] to accommodate the routing of the drive electrodes, which may take the form of rows, columns, or other configurations,” according to the Apple patent application filed Aug. 28 2009 and credited to Wayne Carl Westerman of San Francisco, Calif.
Apple suggests the device determine when typing is required or when pointing is more appropriate.
“The recognition software commands lowering of the frame when lateral sliding gestures or mouse clicking activity chords are detected on the surface,” according to Apple. However, when a user places his fingers on the typing ‘home row’ or typing is detected, the software raises the frame.