Apple patent would have devices sense a squeeze through metal

Apple likes to build devices using metal. Unfortunately, the material isn't usually conducive to touch, in the literal sense of the word -- capacitive touch doesn't always register on a metal gadget, and you can often forget about a response to pressure. A newly published patent from the company could at last get these unfeeling devices to acknowledge our grip without putting sensors above the surface. Apple's method would detect the changes in capacitance between hidden nodes when a device's shell is put under strain, and trigger a hardware or software reaction when there's a strong-enough squeeze. The concept is simple enough. Just what Apple would like to do with the patent, if anything, is the real riddle. The patent was originally filed in 2009, and covers just about everything computer- or mobile-based that Apple could produce; any burning desire to use the technique would likely have been satisfied by now. If our future iPhones or Macs ever answer a hug with more than just cold indifference, though, we'll know why.