Apple appears to be investigating ways to do away with the iMac’s keyboard, replacing it with a touchscreen that should detect shapes, such as a key. Harkening back to the days when letters were sealed with insignias to prove the sender’s identity, the Cupertino, Calif. company would use “signets” for security-related tasks.
The shape-detecting technology, first outlined in a 2004 patent, then updated Oct. 30, 2009, permits “improved techniques to allow different authorization levels” on computer networks.
“The user simply has to present his/her ring to the touch screen in order to place the computer system in his/her preferred configuration,” Apple notes in the patent application. The technology could also provide a way to allow different security levels, such as user or network administrator.
Although the iPhone’s multi-touch technology has spread to other devices, such a notebook trackpads, no mention is made in this patent application.
In January, a Chinese publication wrote that Apple would introduce in 2010 a 22-inch iMac that includes a touchscreen. The latest iMac refresh, in 2009, included an LED-backlit screen.