Shape Recognition on a Touch Sensitive iMac Screen?

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Apple's patent applications always generate a lot of interest as they are one of the few windows we have into the company's research and development labs. Some patent applications are more interesting or relevant than others, but we knew this latest one would generate some buzz as it actually depicts an old-style iMac with a touch screen (above).

This Patent application is called Shape Detecting Input Device and was originally submitted in 2004 with a continuation published today. It proposes that a touch screen could be used not only as a pointer/input device but also a shape recognition device to essentially take the place of a key/lock system. For example, a manager at a retail store could simply place a specially imprinted object on the screen to verify his/her identity. The lock/key angle isn't even as interesting as the fact that Apple assumes that a computer screen would come with a touch sensitive input.

Apple's been rumored to be working on multi-touch displays and even one report which claimed a 22" touchscreen iMac was due later this year. Having been originally published in 2004, it's interesting to see how long Apple's been considering the use of touch screens on their desktop computers. This continuation application was filed in October 2009.