Apple will bring multitouch technology from the iPhone to the mainstream Mac OS X. That much is a foregone conclusion. The technology is too powerful to restrict to just mobile platforms. The only question becomes what multitouch might look like on a full-size computer compared to on an iPhone.
One initial possibility is shown in a patent filing uncovered yesterday for a backlit trackpad that would light up differently based on how many fingers the user applies to the device. In a lot of ways, this is no more than an enhancement to current MacBook and MB Pro trackpads, which are capable of two-finger scrolling, but by highlighting this functionality, Apple could start to drive adoption of the technology. The more people get used to the idea that they should be ready to deliver a variety of interactions, the more ready they’ll be for a wholesale replacement of the mouse or traditional trackpads.
This is an interesting concept, but I would guess this won’t actually come to market exactly as depicted. Patents usually trail implementation a bit these days, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a product based directly on one of these patents ship after the patent approval. Typically, it’s at best a good way to learn about the thinking behind a technology after it ships.
Either way, hope for true multitouch on a laptop is keeping me from upgrading right now. This just sustains my hopes.