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Virtual keyboard tops Apple patent requests

Mac maker files patents for a "smart" virtual keyboard, a two-way screen and tech that lets iPods talk to TVs.

Apple Computer has filed patents for a "smart" touch-screen virtual keyboard, a two-way screen and technology that enables an iPod and host device to wirelessly operate as one.

One recently published patent covers a new method for "activating virtual keys of a touch-screen virtual keyboard."

The virtual keyboard learns which keys are touched more often than others and adjusts the sensitivity of each key accordingly. Certain keys are given more weight over others, depending on the likelihood of the person pressing one key over another. That likelihood is determined by the person's distance of touch from the closest key, as well as frequency of use.

The keyboard would assume, for example, that someone who frequently types the name "Vin" did not mean to type the word "fin" given the close proximity of the "v" and "f" keys on a QWERTY keyboard.

Another patent essentially turns an iPod (referred to as a "personal media device" within the patent) into a remote control for another host device such as a TV or computer. The host device can be used as a monitor that reflects what is happening on the iPod screen.

The patent also says that the technology enables wireless transfer of digital media between the two devices.

In January, a patent for a screen that displays what it sees was also published with Apple as the assignee. The patent describes a screen-camera combo for video conferencing or use in the medical community.

"A panel created from an integrated, embedded macro CCD would thus be able to both display and record visual information simultaneously, without the use of an external video capture device. Simply put, the same panel could display a video conference while also recording the participant sitting in front of it," the patent says.

According to the patent, the two-way screen enables video conference participants to make eye contact remotely.

Apple representatives were not immediately available for comment.