Apple patent could leave physical keyboards in the dust

Touchscreens are the ubiquitous go-to for handheld device interaction, but they sometimes lack punch. Especially with gaming, the native experience can leave you wanting. The d-pad/button arrangement is timeless, but if you want more, Apple may have it in the pipeline. A newly discovered patent shows Apple is at least thinking of rear-controls for their tablets.

The peripheral of the rear of an iPad may soon have touch-capable controls. The patent shows a series of sensors that can pick up on your touch, bringing a whole different dimension to your tablet experience.

In addition to touch, these sensors are noted as possibly being ultrasonic. Pressure sensitivity is also mentioned, which could have implications beyond simple touch. White-knuckle driving games might tighten up if you do.

This may end up being a bit more useful than we're imagining. The patent suggest these sensors will offer ways for us to type without looking down at the keyboard. We're not sure we're ready for a rear-facing keyboard that relies on touch, but between pressure sensitivity and capacitive touch... the visually impaired might have something to look forward to.

In addition to tablets, Apple is envisioning typing environment that configures to your hand positioning. A blank slate could display on your screen, showing the orientation of your hands and the key layout that conforms to it.