MacBook Touch Concept Drawings | 2-sided translucent touchscreens

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
There's been a lot of speculation devoted to bringing touchscreens a la iPhone to MacBooks or creating an Apple Tablet computer. Heck, we've been debating Tablets for eons. After seeing the patent that Apple obtained on dual-sided translucent touchscreens (enabling, among other things, a flip-iPhone), I decided to throw together some concept sketches of how a potential MacBook Touch might look and work.



All the rendering was done with Adobe Photoshop CS3, with liberal use of the Vanishing Point filter and creative use of Drop Shadow effects to give the impression of extrusion. Also a little bit of good old fashioned handpainting. Enjoy.



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Like this patent shows, Apple came up with the idea of a 2-sided translucent touchscreen that could be used to transform a MacBook into a convertible MacBook/MacTablet. Definitely a lot more durable and user-friendly than the bulky convertible PCs available now.







A system like this would have a normal HD LED-backlit display on the inside panel with all the computer's "guts" (HDD/SDD, CPU, motherboard, etc) behind the main display. The rotating part of the computer would be a translucent/transparent dual-sided touchscreen. The device would function as a touchscreen Apple Tablet (like a giant iPhone running full Mac OS X) when the "lid" was closed, and like an ordinary laptop (albeit with a virtual keyboard) when the "lid" was open.



The touchscreen would have to have some minor two-color "darkening" effect to allow it to display virtual keys. Apple's patents on advanced multitouch allow for multitouch software capable of distinguishing between pointing, resting, and typing, all on the same screen. For example, if you have eight or nine fingers resting on the screen, it will go into "typing" mode, where only short taps will be registered as keystrokes (this way you can rest your fingers on the keyboard as usual without "pressing" all the keys simultaneously). This thread details some of the same kind of technology.



The lack of tactile feedback on the keyboard would take some getting used to, but there are ways of partially getting around that (pulsed vibrating screens, etc.). One way to provide imitation tactile feedback would be to have a series of tiny vibrating alert motors around the perimeter of the screen - when a key was pressed 4 inches from the left and 3 inches from the bottom of the screen, the motors at those two locations would trigger a slight vibration, the apex of which would center on the point of keypress.



Anyway, here's my design in all its glory.







When closed, the device looks and functions like any other Tablet computer. Well, not like any other; most tablets don't have multitouch and Mac OS X. But the general picture is pretty simple. The cover is open at the top to allow the camera and microphone to work. USB 2.0 ports (hopefully more than just one), a headphone jack, micro-DVI, and FireWire 2.0 (hopefully) are in a MacBook Air-style "hatch" on the side (not pictured). There is no optical drive, and the system probably runs on a 32GB SSD for programs and OS (which should represent a $200 upgrade by the time this computer is available) and a slower, inexpensive 120GB 1.8" HDD for file storage.



The screen is slightly less vibrant due to the not-entirely-clear translucent touchscreen.







With the screen rotation function already built into Mac OS X, it is a simple matter to turn this computer on its side and use it like a slate, which gives you plenty of space for browsing the internet, flipping through a report, and taking calculus notes (since advanced multitouch knows when your fingers are being used in the shape of a pen/stylus). Naturally, you can decide whether or not the Dock changes orientation when you tilt the screen.







At just over 2.3 lbs, the MacBook Touch is light enough to hold with one hand in both landscape and portrait orientations. This means that you can very easily walk around with it while taking notes, performing an interview, or browsing the internet on WiFi.



But it is when you open the screen that the MacBook Touch really comes to life.







Opening the screen reveals that the top part of the laptop is inset, with generous speakers (not pictured) built into the thick areas at the outside edge of the touchscreen portion of the computer (the lighter gray area). This counterweight, along with a few other careful considerations (like placing the heaviest internal components closer to the hinge) allows the computer to sit easily while open without toppling over backwards.



The touchscreen now becomes a combination keyboard and trackpad, with all the multitouch functionality that the MacBook Air and Pro have. I pictured the trackpad, but most users wouldn't ever need it. Not when the whole 13" touchscreen can be used with multitouch gestures (the keyboard, always barely visible beneath the screen, activates only when deliberately tapped). If die-hard users simply have to have a dedicated click button for the virtual trackpad, Apple could place a thin one along the edge between the outer rim and the screen.



Who wouldn't like a 13" trackpad? With that kind of space, you could even set up a program so that you could map each side of the screen separately, allowing you to work with both hands simultaneously. Take a look at this thread for more of the same.



The greatest advantage of a two-color touchscreen trackpad is, of course, the ability to configure it however you like.







Here, I've shown the MacBook Touch in the classic Apple position (in fact I used the proportions from the MacBook Air to render this in Photoshop). The virtual keyboard still exists, but it's been squeezed upwards and partially blurred out to make room for a virtual touchscreen mixing board. The virtual trackpad is still there; it's been stretched and pushed downward to fit the mixing board in. I've pictured Logic Pro on the screen; this sort of setup would work for any audio or video editing software. Just like you can make your own Widgets in Leopard, the Leopard update released with the MacBook Touch would allow you to easily create your own custom keyboard/trackpad configurations. This would have applications for gaming, graphic design, video editing, and much more. Think about it like plugins for Safari or Firefox.



Some simple gesture (like running your finger around the top and side edges of the touchscreen) could bring up a list of the default and custom keyboard arrangements, that you could then move around and choose just like the Home Screen Icons for the iPhone. Each selected arrangement would then expand to fill the whole touchscreen, where you could then rearrange the keys to suit yourself, or use a simple gesture to freeze the keys in place. It's like keyboard shortcuts to infinity. Instead of talking about cleaning off your desktop (which isn't necessary now that Safari/Leopard has a dedicated Downloads folder), Mac users would talk about periodically cleaning shortcuts off their trackpad. Do I really need links to the latest five issues of Questionable Content? Eh ... I'll save it in an alternate default home screen.



The MacBook touch that I've envisioned here is exactly 12" wide and 8" deep, with a 13" diagonal 16:10 screen and touchscreen. In case you're wondering, that makes the virtual touchscreen exactly 11" wide, which is precisely the distance from the left side of the Caps Lock key to the right side of the Enter key on a standard 101 key physical keyboard. For comparison, it's also the exact same width as the length of a standard sheet of letter paper. This allows for 0.5" aluminum supports (full of wiring) on either side of the screen when it is open.



Obviously I have no idea what the thickness of this computer would be. Considering the innovations that Apple has made with the MacBook Air, they could probably get the overall thickness of the MacBook Touch down to .6" or .5" at the very largest point. That would basically make it the most incredible notebook computer ever produced.



Apple doesn't want to cannibalize its iPhone share in the PDA market by making a larger PDA for a tiny niche of that market sector. What they do want to do, however, is make a device that has the full functionality of Mac OS X with the user-friendliness of a multitouch GUI, and the ease of use of a slate-style device. The MacBook Touch would be sold in a single form so as not to hurt adoption of the MacBook Air, and would be priced competitively at or slightly below pricing for the current MacBook line.



The greatest asset of the MacBook Touch, of course, is its portability. In its slate form, it is basically a gigantic iPhone with major power. The Touch provides an incredible media experience and a way to surf the web while waiting in an airport, etc that's easier than that of the iPhone. I would hope and expect that the MacBook Touch would ship standard with a 3G or WiMax card that could work with the carrier of your choice. Pure mobile data is a lot different from a phone talking plan; Apple gets a kickback from the iPhone since people are necessarily tied into a minutes-based plan. Since the MacBook Touch would not double as a phone (except, perhaps, for VOIP using a bluetooth headset, which wouldn't involve a cellular plan), there would be no reason for Apple to lock the 3G/WiMax card into a particular carrier.



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I know this probably won't satisfy wizard69, who wants a big iPhone/UMPC. It should satisfy Ireland, who wants an 11" tablet.



But who are we joking? It's not like Apple reads these forums for ideas or anything.



Tell me what you think of the concepts. Cheers!



-David
«13

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 49
    thread bump
  • Reply 2 of 49
    onlookeronlooker Posts: 5,252member
    That is awesome!



    This image:









    And this image - Totally make this idea.







    Al the images are great, but once I saw how I could use different application interfaces on the keypad part I was sold. You'd probably be able to use Spaces on both screens. As a Logic studio owner I can definitely see the need.
  • Reply 3 of 49
    olternautolternaut Posts: 1,376member
    While I do really like this stuff in fact I think this is the next step when it comes to notebooks, I do hope they also come out with a smaller handheld version. I really want a handheld computer bigger than the iphone or ipod touch that I can do more stuff with. A mobile internet device is what I'm looking for.

    Actually, I'm looking for a device that can do more. Sorta like a tricorder from startrek is what I'm after.
  • Reply 4 of 49
    j120387j120387 Posts: 56member
    that logic pro user interface keyboard is really sweet. that would be awesome if they do that. i would totally buy it.
  • Reply 5 of 49
    macroninmacronin Posts: 1,174member
    I would be all over that, like a hobo on a ham sammich…!



    ;^p



    Seriously though, does it come in black?
  • Reply 6 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by MacRonin View Post


    I would be all over that, like a hobo on a ham sammich…!



    ;^p



    Seriously though, does it come in black?



    Does it come in black? Absolutely.







    A much sexier black, I must point out.



    I wish I had the programs and expertise necessary to make a 3D animation of the screen opening. You know - it slowly starts to rotate toward you, then the translucent screen rotates faster as it opens ... the keyboard starts to fade into view just as you can see the inside surface of the screen....



    This could make for an amazing MacWorld '09 keynote. It would be pretty easy for Jobs to hide the fact that it opened, and so he could talk all about its applications as the perfect tablet computer, and then once everyone was convinced that a touchscreen keyboard would work (on the closed version) he could open it and stun everyone.
  • Reply 7 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by appleeinstein View Post


    Does it come in black? Absolutely.



    {{image snipped}}



    A much sexier black, I must point out.



    I wish I had the programs and expertise necessary to make a 3D animation of the screen opening. You know - it slowly starts to rotate toward you, then the translucent screen rotates faster as it opens ... the keyboard starts to fade into view just as you can see the inside surface of the screen....



    This could make for an amazing MacWorld '09 keynote. It would be pretty easy for Jobs to hide the fact that it opened, and so he could talk all about its applications as the perfect tablet computer, and then once everyone was convinced that a touchscreen keyboard would work (on the closed version) he could open it and stun everyone.



    Here's a comparative view that will give you a rough idea of how large the MacBook Touch that I've designed is:







    It's not even twice as high as the iPhone is tall - a lot more compact than you would think. Fits in a three-ring binder. I could imagine a simple hardback case, the size of a 3 ring binder, that would appeal quite a lot to students and business people - it would have a sleeve that the MB Touch would slide into and a flipping protective cover that could hold a few spiral notebooks. You could just place the case cover-down and open the MB Touch to type as usual.
  • Reply 8 of 49
    I love the idea of a fully multitouch keyboard. But why only go with two colors. Multiple colors would open up a whole new realm of applications and it would be much easier to find the key you are looking for in applications like final cut.
  • Reply 9 of 49
    bobertoqbobertoq Posts: 172member
    i wasn't that interested at first, until i started reading. wow! I would buy that if it was relatively cheap. A 13" track pad? ahhh so awesome.
  • Reply 10 of 49
    wheelhotwheelhot Posts: 465member
    Haha, dual touch, its like Nintendo DS
  • Reply 11 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zachsilvey View Post


    I love the idea of a fully multitouch keyboard. But why only go with two colors. Multiple colors would open up a whole new realm of applications and it would be much easier to find the key you are looking for in applications like final cut.



    I set it up with two colors (actually just one color, but with varying opacities) simply because the current technology wouldn't allow for more than one color in a transparent, dual-sided touchscreen. The technology for a polychrome display in those parameters simply isn't there.



    Quote:

    Haha, dual touch, it's like Nintendo DS



    Exactly! Except ten times cooler when it's shut....
  • Reply 12 of 49
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,223moderator
    The flaws being that the transparent LCD can't go on the bottom or the machine would just tip over and it can't go on the top because it wouldn't be functional and other people would see what you were doing.



    Touch Tablet only FTW.



    If the bottom panel is a touch display too, I don't see why they'd bother with two screens and not just one. It just adds unnecessary expense IMO.
  • Reply 13 of 49
    DAMN IT!!!



    I'd HAVE to buy one!!!11!!



    Amazing concept art



    Patent it and send it in to Apple pronto!
  • Reply 14 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    The flaws being that the transparent LCD can't go on the bottom or the machine would just tip over and it can't go on the top because it wouldn't be functional and other people would see what you were doing.



    Touch Tablet only FTW.



    If the bottom panel is a touch display too, I don't see why they'd bother with two screens and not just one. It just adds unnecessary expense IMO.



    It won't tip over, since the heaviest components are placed at the bottom and there are speakers in the top of the hinged screen to offset the weight.
  • Reply 15 of 49
    This would NEVER work!
  • Reply 16 of 49
    Soooo very interesting ! Can it be done ?



    Sure. In 3-4 years time. Apple is, in all it´s glory, a very conservative computer builder.



    3-4 years. Sure



    Zon
  • Reply 17 of 49
    onlookeronlooker Posts: 5,252member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zenarcade View Post


    Soooo very interesting ! Can it be done ?



    Sure. In 3-4 years time. Apple is, in all it´s glory, a very conservative computer builder.



    3-4 years. Sure



    Zon



    Oddly enough we started saying this six years ago so it should be close to around the corner if it happens.
  • Reply 18 of 49
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by onlooker View Post


    Oddly enough we started saying this six years ago so it should be close to around the corner if it happens.



    Right - it's just that now we've seen the patents (taken out quite a while ago, incidentally) that can make a good tablet Mac possible.



    I'm feeling a June release for iPhone 2 (3G etc, like Kevin Rose dreams of) and a MacWorld '09 release for the MacBook Touch or something similar. I'm sure that whatever they end up releasing will look a whole lot cooler.



    Although I'd be happy about a launch this fall....
  • Reply 19 of 49
    macroninmacronin Posts: 1,174member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    If the bottom panel is a touch display too, I don't see why they'd bother with two screens and not just one. It just adds unnecessary expense IMO.



    Read the original post again, the 'main' screen is a regular screen, no touch input. The 'flip' screen is the touch-enabled screen. When folded against the 'regular' screen, it enables multi-touch input. When opened in 'laptop mode' the 'main' screen acts like any other 'normal' laptop screen and the 'flip' screen (still multi-touch enabled) becomes whatever type of interface the end user desires?
  • Reply 20 of 49
    macroninmacronin Posts: 1,174member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by appleeinstein View Post


    Does it come in black? Absolutely.







    A much sexier black, I must point out.



    I wish I had the programs and expertise necessary to make a 3D animation of the screen opening. You know - it slowly starts to rotate toward you, then the translucent screen rotates faster as it opens ... the keyboard starts to fade into view just as you can see the inside surface of the screen....



    This could make for an amazing MacWorld '09 keynote. It would be pretty easy for Jobs to hide the fact that it opened, and so he could talk all about its applications as the perfect tablet computer, and then once everyone was convinced that a touchscreen keyboard would work (on the closed version) he could open it and stun everyone.



    Love the black!



    And I love the idea for a MacWorld '09 reveal?!



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by appleeinstein View Post


    Here's a comparative view that will give you a rough idea of how large the MacBook Touch that I've designed is:







    It's not even twice as high as the iPhone is tall - a lot more compact than you would think. Fits in a three-ring binder. I could imagine a simple hardback case, the size of a 3 ring binder, that would appeal quite a lot to students and business people - it would have a sleeve that the MB Touch would slide into and a flipping protective cover that could hold a few spiral notebooks. You could just place the case cover-down and open the MB Touch to type as usual.



    I like the idea for integrating the protective case into a multi-use binder. Would work in both educational & business markets?
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