Lawyers for Sony Computer Entertainment America must have been mighty busy last October, hatching the wild scheme that came to light this week -- a series of eight intertwining patent applications all describing a single device with an intriguing touchscreen interface. Though it's hard to tell what form the final device might take -- the apps suggest sliders, clamshells and slates -- a few distinct ideas bubble to the surface, and we'll knock them out one by one. First, the inventors seem to be rather particular about having a touchpad that's separate from the main screen -- perhaps even on its back like the rumored PSP2 -- and Sony's trying to patent a way to manipulate objects through the screen as well. Second, there's a lot of mumbo-jumbo about being able to "enhance" or "transform" the user interface in response to different forms of input, which seems to boil down to this: Sony's trying to get some multitouch up in there, especially pinch-to-zoom.

Last but not least, the company's looking to cordon off a section of touchscreen buttons, including a 'paste' command, and patent a "prediction engine" that would dynamically change the onscreen layout based on your past behavior. If most of these ideas sound more at home in a new tablet computer rather than a gaming handheld, then great minds think alike. Still, SCEA is Sony's gaming division -- forlorn Linux computing aside -- so consider us stumped for now.

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