Though it's incredibly awkward and tiring to actively touch a 27-inch screen on a desk, touchscreen tech is still the obvious future for computers. So it's no surprise that Apple has some patents up its sleeve that'll make a touchscreen iMac a reality. Here's the newest.
According to PatentlyApple, the new Apple patent published by the USPTO today shows new GUI elements that could help improve the potentially confusing layout of a hybrid OS X/touchscreen UI. Specifically, Apple is trying to fix knobs with a "new" knob/slider control that's easier to use and figure out. The effect is more visual and clearer in how the particular knob works (Patently Apple says there is a fill region that indicates the movement of a knob).
All this type of GUI isn't particularly groundbreaking, but to elegantly transfer mouse and click actions to sensible touch and tap motion, well, the devil is in the details. Obviously, this little patent isn't hard proof that the next generation iMac will have a touchscreen display but it's clear that Apple sees touchscreen in the iMac (or at the very least, Mac OS X's) future. Read more about knobs and how they related to touchscreen iMacs at Patently Apple. [Patently Apple]