One of the things that bothers me most about having to work on a laptop computer is the trackpad. Why, you ask? Well, trackpads don't offer the sensitivity I'm used to with a real mouse. This is the very reason that many people who work on a laptop frequently carry around a portable mobile mouse. However, if you're the sort that likes to travel light, having to carry extra peripherals with you can be an irritation.
Recently, a new patent application surfaced from Foxconn that showcases a rather novel approach to the problem by offering a trackpad and mouse in a single device. The patent depicts a notebook computer with a normal trackpad beneath the keyboard, as we're all used to seeing. The interesting part? The trackpad can be neatly ejected from the notebook and used like a mouse.
The patent is titled "Laptop having a detachable touchpad." As with any other application that turns up, merely filing for the patent doesn't mean Foxconn will be building notebooks with the technology. However, I think the above-mentioned image depicts a novel design that many mobile users would really appreciate.
Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of information in the patent application about actually using the trackpad as a mouse once ejected. It's unclear if you actually handle the trackpad like a mouse, or if the design simply allows you to remove the trackpad and place it to the right of your computer for more natural access. Mostly the patent application seems to talk about how the trackpad connects to the notebook and how the ejection mechanism would work. Frankly, it seems somewhat similar to an ejection mechanism for a standard notebook battery.
Personally, one can only hope that if the device actually does come to market there will be an optical sensor of some sort on the bottom of the trackpad -allowing users to take advantage of the touch surface as virtual buttons.