updated 11:55 am EST, Thu January 24, 2008
Illuminating iPod touchpad
An application submitted to the US Patent and Trademark Office suggests that future clickwheel iPods, i.e. the Classic and the Nano, may use illuminated touchpads. The technology involves lights placed beneath the surface of a pad, which illuminate in different ways as users pass fingers (or possibly styluses) over top. In the most basic incarnation, one or more sections of the pad light up as users touch it; this may indicate the possibility of multi-touch control, but the patent also suggests illuminating only a single segment in some cases.
The style of the illumination may likewise vary, from simply appearing as a halo, to having leading and trailing edges, possibly in different colors. Swiping around the pad may also produce special motion effects, such as generating a "comet" complete with a tapered tail. Sensors used may be able to detect acceleration, and increase or decrease the brightness of lights as users scroll faster.
Beyond iPods, it is suggested that the patent could be applied to trackpads, namely those used on MacBooks. Something similar is said to already exist on the MacBook Air.