Recent patents filed by Apple reveal that the company may be looking to extend the multi-touch functionality found in the iPhone and iPod Touch to devices that can utilize the whole hand. Using an array of sensors, these products would be capable of recognizing which part of the hand is making contact with the surface as well as the proximity of the hand to the device. In the end, users would be able to perform actions far more complex than simple tap and dragging motions.
As with all patents, the technology featured here may never see the light of day, but the versatility of the designs suggests that a wide array of products could benefit from multi-touch as Apple envisions it. The patent notes that the control area can be curved to accommodate surfaces like keyboards and trackpads, in addition to more obvious uses in displays. Pretty exciting stuff when you consider the quality of current Apple multi-touch and the myriad of possible applications. [Patent 1 , Patent 2, Patent 3 via Electronista]