Over the weekend, the New York Times claimed that word from several inside sources indicated that the new Apple Tablet would have a multi-touch interfaces that required a “somewhat complex new vocabulary of finger gestures…. making use of technology [Apple] acquired in the 2007 purchase of a company called FingerWorks.”
It appears that the New York Times might have managed to pinch zoom right over the truth of the technology behind Apple’s latest product: a couple days later, and Fingerworks.com has quietly been shuttered.
Why is Apple suddenly interested in keeping the FingerWorks connection so secret? 9to5Mac points out that the archived version of the site contains press releases for old products which give explicit descriptions of technology that could have evolved into the Apple Tablet’s UI.
For example, one Fingerworks press release reads: “The MacNTouch Gesture Keyboard is a complete user interface that serves as mouse, standard keyboard, and powerful multi-finger gesture interpreter. Mouse operations like point, click, drag, scroll, and zoom are combined seamlessly with touch-typing and multi-finger gesture everywhere on the MacNTouch’s surface.”
The 9to5Mac comments are interesting as well. One commenter suggests that the Apple Tablet may actually be meant to wean us off physical keyboards across both desktop and laptop lines. 9to5Mac commenter darwiniandude enlarges this supposition, pointing out that Apple has ” ditched the numerical key pad seemingly without reason, AND forced us to get used to very thin flat key boards with minimal key travel response.”
Maybe they’re right. Maybe the likes of the Tablet and the Mighty Mouse are the first steps towards Apple consolidating the mouse and keyboard into a single touch device that does the work of both. If the Tablet is released and if it can be paired with an Apple computer to operate as an input device, my guess is that we’re looking at the digital future of Apple keyboards, courtesy of Fingerworks.