Apple's multitouch patent trail continues, with the latest application to come to light describing a full multitouch-sensitive surface that could track not only finger but palm contact, work as a keyboard and also recognize complex gestures and manipulations. Filed in June 2009, the patent describes a touchscreen capable of permitting "unprecedented integration of typing, resting, pointing, scrolling, 3D manipulation, and handwriting into a versatile, ergonomic computer input device".
Apple's focus appears to be on providing full input and mouse control without demanding that users move their hands significantly from a single position. Single clicks - a tap with a single finger - are differentiated from "chords", involving multiple fingers, as well as from typing on an onscreen keyboard; the touchscreen could also differentiate between different points of pressure, whether from the middle of a digit or at its edges, together with performing handwriting recognition.
Meanwhile various other sensors would be able to track whether or not hands or digits were near to the touchscreen, advancing on the scope of an earlier patent which could monitor hovering-proximity. While there's no telling what Apple intend to do with the technology, the most obvious implementation would be text-input and control of their much-rumored Apple Tablet, tipped to debut early in 2010.