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June 24, 2010


@kensai. Yes - like this device perhaps:


Sounds plausible. Thanks for the contribution.


I have a reason to believe that this shape shifting interface will not go to the iPhone/iPod/iPad as the patent images show, but to the future iMacs with touchpad. Probably Apple shows it with the mobile devices to divert the prying eyes of competitors. :)

If this patent ever makes it to production, an amazing touchpad that becomes keyboard might come out of it.

This will mean we're gonna have all the advantages of a touchpad plus a hardware morphing keyboard for productive typing.

Tellrad did it in Israel 50 years ago in telephone routing equipment designed to be used by blind telephone operators. It worked. By law telephone operator jobs were reserved for the blind, war veterans as well as visually impaired because other reasons. The user interface consisted of buttons with a rising cylindrical center. The operator felt the console to receive information and was able to flatten the rising cylinder as well as push the button. One advantage was that at the time (before screens) operators had to listen to the calling party in order to obtain information that blind operators received faster by touch. Blind people who took those jobs ended up memorizing institutional phone book and recognizing the voice of everyone in the organization.

It makes sense to have the UI switch interfaces and raise/lower for the active object you want to message. Virtual interfaces galore can be created with this design patent.

I could see how this could become a new API for the developers to play with, along the same lines as the current iPhones have accelerometers, gyros, etc. This really would change the iPhone into the platform of a developers wet dream -- imagine the possibilities in games and apps!

Whoa, Rikki, you hit that one out of the park! Good eye. I was wondering, as did the author, what Apple was doing with slipping in that design. Now the idea is down to earth and more likely to be something we may see in the future. Thanks guy.

Figure 9 is the key. The design on the right with what you think is a slideout keyboard is where the secret rests. It's not a slideout keyboard, it's a slide out shape shifting or morphing surface. One that could be a keyboard or game pad or TV remote or other preconfigured or custom device controller. The key to this rests with Figure 9. Number 9, number 9, number 9. Well that's what my crystal ball tell me :)

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