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Apple applies to light up laptop touchpads, iPod clickwheels

Visual feedback

Apple has touched on a new way to help you find your way around its products. The company has registered technology in the US that could see the iPod’s clickwheel or your MacBook Air’s touchpad light-up when you finger it.

Apple patent

Apple's design for iPods with light-up clickwheels

The patent application, which was filed recently with the US Patent and Trademark Office, shows in block diagram form how the inclusion of a lighting mechanism would help guide users around a device by relating menu options to lighting changes. It's little like someone switching the hallway light on and off for every step you take up the stairs.

Apple patent

Which light mode catches your eye?

Apple’s patent lists several potential designs. For example, one diagram shows how the light could track the user’s finger around a scroll wheel like a ball of fire. Whilst another tracks the user’s digit in block formation.

Apple patent

The idea could be incorporated into laptops, like the Air

The most intriguing design shows how the intensity of the light emitted would grow as the speed of the user’s scrolling increases. So, if you’re really in a hurry to find your favourite song then you’ll get a handy clickwheel torch.

While the patent application rambles on for many pages, as they often do, the real question is, how much would the addition of a light to a clickwheel or touchpad really improve the operation for users? Will there be different light colour options? Can the wheel flash to the beat of your music? Or, will it affect the iPod and Air's existing operation negatively, such as by shortening battery life?

Register Hardware wants to know your thoughts.

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