updated 12:20 pm EDT, Wed May 27, 2009
Multitouch, iPhone patents
Apple has won four new patents from the US Patent and Trademark Office, covering a range of technologies. Among these are ones for riser card housing in the Mac Pro, and a Mac OS-related concept called Computer system with graphical user interface including drawer-like windows. Important however is one for a touchpad surface, covering the multi-touch trackpad in the MacBook Air, and in a minor fashion the iPhone touchscreen.
The patent describes a multi-layered system, comprising two sets of drive traces, one arrangement of sense traces and a spring membrane. All of these are arranged in between a base and an outer "cosmetic layer," such as glass. Recognition of the invention -- credited to Steven Hotelling and Brian Huppi -- could help Apple defend against an influx of copycat devices, although its method is not the only means of creating a multi-touch surface.
Separate yet related is a patent for the iPhone's casing design, highlighting elements like a divided construction and the ports at the top and bottom. Also visible are assorted speakers, buttons and switches, as well as the rough positioning of the camera. Many individuals are credited for the work, though notable inclusions are Apple's lead designer, Jonathan Ive, and the company's CEO, Steve Jobs.