updated 03:20 pm EDT, Tue July 14, 2009
Multi-touch pad patent
Apple has been granted a critical patent by the US Patent and Trademark Office, covering the company's wide-ratio multi-touch trackpad. The first real-world example of the pad emerged in the beginning of 2008, when it appeared in the MacBook Air. It has since migrated to MacBooks and MacBook Pros, and should remain standard on Apple notebooks for some time.
The larger size of the pad is believed to be necessary for advanced gestures, including not just pinches, swipes and twists, but forthcoming Chinese handwriting recognition in Mac OS X Snow Leopard. An unusual aspect of the patent involves sensors, which can be arranged in several different ways to detect whether someone is mousing or typing. Should sensors detect typing, they can disable part or all of the pad to prevent accidental interaction.