Apple patent points to proximity-based tablet interface

A newly awarded Apple patent suggests the company has been working on a way to display different user interface modules based on proximity instead of touch. Originally filed in September 2005 and awarded earlier today, the patent entitled “Proximity detector in handheld device” describes a system that employs one of a number of different methods for detecting when a finger, stylus, or some other object is place above, but not directly on, an area of the screen. Once the presence is detected, an appropriate user interface element is displayed, and the user can interact with the element via proximity gestures or some other form of input, such as touch. Notably, the images included with the patent appear to depict a tablet device, as opposed to a smaller handheld like the iPhone or iPod touch. As with all Apple patents, this filing does not necessarily represent any future product release from Apple, but offers evidence of the company’s research in this area; continue reading for images from the patent. [via Patently Apple]

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