Apple patents Tablet “proximity detector”

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A lot of the frenzied last minute speculation leading up to this morning’s Apple Tablet announcement is either going to look eerily prescient or downright silly in just a few hours time, but here’s one feature we can probably expect to see later today: Apple has just gotten itself a patent for a Tablet proximity director.

The patent doesn’t describe anything revolutionary, but it seems like a feature par for the course for a company as concerned with the cohesive and seamless user experience as Apple. Essentially, the proximity detector tracks objects that are near, but don’t touch, the Tablet’s display. For example, move your fingers in a typing position near the screen and a virtual keyboard would automatically pop up.

Seems like a lock to me — Jobs isn’t the type to be satisfied with an onscreen button that calls up a virtual keyboard — but six short hours should tell.