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Apple patents "visual buttons" to blend display and interface

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Equally part Optimus keyboard and fanboy-style full-screen video iPod, Apple's new interface patents should provide plenty of fuel for the rumor fires in coming months. The two patents, filed in Europe and published yesterday, are titled "Display actuator," and "A Movable Display for Generating Input Signals." Apple is covering all their bases with these, saying the technology can apply to pretty much any type of electronic device, from phones to laptops. The basic idea is a "display actuator," which can be any type of display that can both show information and take user input like a click or a slide. This could easily be something simple like a button with an OLED display, but our hopes are high for a display that can double as a click wheel. Apple practically says as much themselves: "By reducing or eliminating the input devices, the display of the electronic device can be maximized within the user interface portion of the electronic device, or alternatively the electronic device can be minimized to the size of the display." Though we're not too clear on the patent-nese language, the technology definitely seems to be different than current pen or finger-based touch screens, so however it plays out we could be seeing a fresh interface type out of Apple before long. Or, just as likely, this could be relegated to the incredible stash of high-concept patents that Apple never seems to do anything with.

[Via Mac Rumors]

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