Apple has filed a patent for a touch-screen technology that could be used in a media player or tablet PC.
The patent application, entitled 'Proximity detector in a handheld device', was discovered by news and rumour site AppleInsider.
An abstract for the claim describes the technology as a method that includes "sensing an object spaced away and in close proximity to the electronic device" .
According to the description, the technology could be used in many consumer electronics devices.
"The portable computing device may, for example, be a portable computer, tablet PC, PDA, media player (e.g. music player, video player, game player), digital camera, GPS module and the like," the application states.
One image is described as a "graphical user interface displayed on an iPod manufactured by Apple", and another is a "graphical user interface associated with a music management program such as iTunes", the description reads.
The technology can function when items are placed close to the screen, but not touching it.
Apple describes an example where a user's finger is detected near to the display, causing an onscreen scroll wheel to appear.
"The finger is spaced away and not in contact with the touch surface. Once the presence of an object is detected, the user interface proceeds to where a virtual scroll wheel is activated," the company said.
"A virtual scroll wheel is displayed in addition to the list of songs and its functionality is enabled. The virtual scroll wheel can be made semi-transparent so that the media items can be viewed through the virtual scroll wheel."
The full application can be viewed on the AppleInsider website.
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