updated 11:55 am EDT, Tue May 19, 2009
Sensing display patent
Apple has been granted several patents by the US Patent and Trademark Office, including ones for the technology and design of the Mighty Mouse, and the general design of the extinct iPod Hi-Fi stereo. Key amongst the patents however is one for an integrated sensor display, which could theoretically simplify or expand on the features of many Apple products. An application was originally submitted on behalf of Michael Uy by Apple in June of 2004.
Much in the same manner as the iPhone and the iPod touch sandwich touch-sensitive layers into their LCDs, the Apple patent proposes interweaving photo sensors alongside each pixel projector. Backing the technology would be an assortment of necessary circuits, such as ones for amplification and analog-to-digital conversion. These in turn would be linked with the main architecture of a device, such as its CPU and video output.
The end result could be used by any number of Apple devices, ranging from handhelds to desktop and notebook Macs. It would theoretically support a variety of purposes, such as integrating a webcam directly into a display, allowing for more natural conversations and eliminating the need for separate design space. By extension it could be used in an optically-based interface, thanks to more precise gesture tracking than would be possible with a smaller sensor.