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Apple transparent trackpad patent suggests clamshell iPhone

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Apple iphoneApple has developed a technique that could allow for a smaller iPhone with all the controls but half the size, according to a recent but not yet fully public US Patent Office filing. Described as a “dual sided trackpad,” the primary variant on the invention would have a translucent cover with a capacitive, multi-touch trackpad that accepts input on either side and can activate controls depending on the pad’s position.

The pad could therefore be attached to a small handheld device through a hinge and switch its functionality depending on whether it was open or closed: while a closed trackpad would simply serve as a substitute for the main touchscreen, an open position could provide a separate pad for dialing numbers or an interface for gestures and scrolling. This touchscreen could have its own basic display for these features.
Apple iphoneA second iteration of the patent could also apply to computers and would have the dual trackpad replace the conventional, opaque surface on a notebook such as the MacBook Air; while acting as a traditional trackpad when the computer is open, a fully shut notebook would switch input to the outside and use it as an external interactive display for checking e-mail, playing music, and other simple actions, similar to Windows Vista’s SideShow.

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