Apple patent suggests multi-touch keyboards might be in the future

A new Apple patent uncovered by MacRumors showcases the work of FingerWorks, which Apple purchased in 2005. FingerWorks, best known now for being the base of today's gesture-recognition technology, produced the TouchStream multi-touch keyboard early last decade. However, as demonstrated in certain products, such as the Magic Cube, lack of tactile feedback along with the need to look at the keys while typing lest your fingers begin drifting are among the problems with getting such technology going mainstream.

According to the patent filing, FingerWorks co-founder John Elias is working to create a hybrid physical keyboard that doubles as a motion-sensitive device. There would be a typing mode and a mouse mode, toggled via a special key or key combination.

While using trackpads is normal for laptops, if Apple implements this sort of keyboard, it wouldn't completely drive a physical mouse or stylus -- like a Wacom tablet with pen -- obsolete. As MacRumors points out, multi-touch keyboards aren't quite ready to be sprung on average consumers yet. We'll probably see other inventions, such as a Magic Mouse with a display panel, first.