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Apple patent applications hint at new Nanos, keyboards

updated 01:40 pm EDT, Thu May 12, 2011

Supports re-introduction of cameras to Nanos

Two newly-published Apple patent applications hint at possible product plans for the company. Most significant is one appearing to depict a sixth-generation touchscreen iPod nano, but with additional sensors such as ones for audio, motion or even temperature. Among these is a camera, something that was included on the fifth-generation Nano but conspicuously omitted in the shift to a smaller design.

While many Apple patents fail to come to fruition, the Nano document may back reports that a seventh-generation player will restore the camera. Images of alleged production samples are circulating online, as well as some accompanying information. One source has claimed that the next Nano will include a slightly better camera than the one in the iPad 2, upgraded from 1 to 1.3 megapixels.

The second patent, Input Devices and Methods of Operation, proposes an unusual keyboard design. To provide tactile feedback, a keyboard could expel air from a key when a proximity sensor detects a nearby finger. As an alternative the key itself might move, driven by an extremely small pneumatic system. Apple could theoretically implement one of the options in future peripherals to make touch typing easier.

by MacNN Staff





  1. johncarync

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I read the application...

    I read the patent application. The most interesting parts are paragraphs 0027, 0028, and 0043.

    (Paragraphs 27 & 28) What they're trying to describe is a keyboard with less key travel than the current ones sold by Apple. But, by using compressed air to push against your finger tip and with the ability to pull the key down as your finger goes to press on it, the keyboard tricks your mind into thinking it has a lot more key travel than it really does.

    (Paragraph 43) It doesn't have to be a physical keyboard. A virtual surface with tiny air holes in it could trick your fingers into thinking they're pressing on real keys. And it doesn't have to be a solid surface, it could be gel or foam.

    So, if Apple uses these patents, we'll have laptops with flatter keyboards that feel like they have more key travel than current ones and a foam iPhone protector that unwraps to become a keyboard.

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