Apple: Transparent Multitouch Display MacBook

In the March 2008 edition of the Touch Panel newsletter from Veritas et Visus, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Mark Fihn wrote an interesting piece on the rumor regarding a MacBook with a transparent multitouch display.

Here are a few choice paragraphs in the article titled “Rumors of transparency…”

About two years ago, a friend from Taiwan passed on a rumor to me that Apple was planning to introduce a portable PC with a transparent display. He insisted that this was not just talk, but was a real product and would be released in early 2007.

Well, due to my buddy’s insistence, I went through the routine of checking with numerous contacts in and around Apple and got the usual inputs about how Apple is working on lots of interesting things and that transparent displays sound interesting. I got no firm information and dropped the investigation.

Well, one of the latest Apple rumors, fueled by a recent patent application authored by Apple, is related to MacBooks with transparent multi-touch displays. The Apple patent application apparently reveals a transparent multi-touch display that can work as a control surface on either side. Open it up in traditional laptop mode and you have a keyboard. Close it and you have a touch enabled slate. Perhaps some LucidTouch concepts will also apply, enabling touch inputs from the reverse side… The latest rumors come with some interesting concept designs:

Apple MacBook Transparent Multitouch Display

While transparent does not describe Apple’s product development process, it is a rumor that seems to be sticking around for awhile, so who knows? Regardless, the concept of having a notebook PC with three touch enabled surfaces is quite interesting. Not just the display surface, but also the keyboard/touchpad surface, (which could serve as a second display as well), and the backside surface of the see-through display. While there are lots of design issues with a solution with three active surfaces, the concept is compelling – creating multiple input options, expanding the display surface area without expanding the device size, and changing the possibilities associated with viewability and presentation.

Even if Apple doesn’t verify the rumors, the concepts are compelling and in the not too distant future, I suspect that we’ll be seeing notebook PCs with not only multi-touch surfaces, but with multiple surfaces that can be touched.

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