Back in 2012, a local Fox affiliate ran a news story showing off what they thought was the iPhone 5. In reality, it was a concept video with non-existent features like holographic images and a projection keyboard. The internet laughed and we all went on with our lives. Now, Apple has filed a patent that brings one of those mythical features a small bit closer to reality.
The patent, titled "iPhone Frequency Sensor/Magnifier Application" describes a system that, with an iPhone laying on a flat surface, uses various acoustic signals and vibration readings to effectively turn that surface into a functional touch panel. The surface in question can then be split into various regions that, when touched, could be used for various input.
The patent specifically calls out the possibility of such technology being used for keyboard input, game control, or for navigating and playing music from the iPhone. There's even a mention of being able to print out a paper keyboard that could be used in conjunction with the iPhone's sensing capabilities, as well as the idea that the iPhone itself could project the keyboard or other input grid onto a surface.
It's a wild idea, and while we've seen virtual keyboards in the past, they're typically clunky and usually not accurate enough to rely on for long periods of time. The technology described in Apple's patent seems much more advanced, so on the small chance that we ever see an iPhone that actually utilizes it, that futuristic concept video might not have been so crazy after all.
[via Patently Apple]