Apple looks at illuminated touchpad in new patent

Posted by Mark Raby

Mclean (VA) - A recently filed Apple patent describes a new kind of touchpad that lights up to in response to normal activity.

In the patent, Apple says it might be "desirable to provide visual stimuli at the touch pad so that a user can better operate the touch pad."  For example, the patent talks about the touchpad illuminating when it is touched, and light paths could follow the movement of touch.

In addition, Apple's patent refers to more advanced technologies that could be used with this kind of touchpad.  For instance, the pad could light up with different colors based the pressure or other characteristics of the touch.

In theory, users could program macro commands that are executed when a certain motion or touch intensity is applied to the touchpad.

This could turn the touchpad into a similar input device as a Tablet PC, which lets users use "gestures" with the touch screen to perform specific commands.

A couple other aesthetic ideas are thrown in the patent, including the possibility of having a lit outline around the user's finger as it moves around the touchpad.

"The input surface can generate glowing special effects that may for example provide backlighting to the input surface and/or provide an outline, trace or shadow of the sensed object on the input surface," reads part of Apple's patent.