Appleinsider (opens in new tab) has published some interesting details about a next-generation multi-touch 'surface' that brings together typing, pointing, scrolling and handwriting capabilities in a bid to replace the keyboard, mouse, trackball, touchpad, tablet and joypad as traditional input devices.
The 80-page long patent filling document was submitted back at the end of July 2007 and shows a number of interesting designs and concepts;
Based on the details of the filing, it can be deducted that the active surface would be around 20cm x 18cm which is smaller than an A4 sheet.
Appleinsider also reveals that the surface could be used as a digitising tablet using the finger as a stylus.
Apple has been very much at the forefront of user-machine interactivity - the iPod introduced the revolutionary click wheel while the iPhone brought touch screen to the masses.
It could be envisage that the Apple surface device would only be a supersized iPhone screen, although extras like hand motion and pen detection would give the user more features to play with.
Microsoft's Surface (opens in new tab) will the first commercially available touchscreen from Microsoft and according to the software developer, turns an ordinary tabletop into a vibrant, interactive surface.