Your future iPhone or iPad could offer an interactive touch screen that reacts to the pressure exerted by your touch.
Published Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, an Apple patent application called "Embedded force measurement" takes the concept of tapping on your touch screen at least one step further. Instead of just lightly tapping on your screen, you would actually press down on it to activate a command. The phone would measure the force of your tap and respond accordingly.
As one example, an on-screen icon could let you control the volume of your device. Pressing down on one side of the icon would raise the volume, while pressing down on the other side would lower the volume. Your device could even react differently based on the pressure of your touch. Pressing down lightly on the volume icon would adjust the volume gradually, while pressing down harder would adjust the volume more quickly.
Another example in the application highlights the benefit of the technology to an app like Apple's GarageBand. You could press harder on a key on the virtual piano keyboard to play a note louder and press more gently to elicit a softer note.
The patent application focuses on a mobile phone, but the invention could be applied to other devices, including media players, cameras, and handheld game consoles. As such, the force of your touch could be used to snap a picture, make a phone call, hop onto the Internet, send an e-mail, or listen to music.