How do you make an iMac desktop that doubles as a multitouch tablet? If you're Apple: just like this. Why can't the future be now already?
Here's how it would work: sensors would indicate whether the display was oriented vertically for desktop mode, then would automagically go into tablet mode when brought horizontal:
For example, an accelerometer in the display could sense the force of gravity along an axis, and the measured force could be used to determine an angle of the display with respect to the ground (i.e. the plane perpendicular to the direction of the force of gravity). A transition between input modes could be performed when the vertical angle (tilt) of the display crosses a predetermined angle.
In another example, a rotation sensor could be mounted in an adjustable stand of the display. The rotation sensor could measure a rotation position of the stand, such as an angle between the base of the stand and a hinged arm that connects the base and the display. The measured rotation position could be used to determine the orientation of the display.
Or a touch sensor could be implemented to determine how the display is being grasped. The patent covers both desktop and notebook devices.
As with all patents, who knows whether this is technology that will actually come to light or if Apple just filed it defensively to protect their IP. What we can so for sure is that there's a very definite want for this—from me, at least!—and unless Mac OS X eventually disappears, it's the best way to bring Apple's two operating systems together in harmony. [Patently Apple]