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Apple iPhone 4G patent surfaces?

Three new Apple patents applications unearthed this week suggest a range of new features that may be included in the next generation iPhone.

MacRumors reveals the most interesting patent appears to be a haptic feedback concept employing a “grid of piezoelectronic actuators” potentially producing a fully tactile touchscreen. This could mean the ability to feel virtual buttons or a click wheel and receive small vibrations from the handset.

Limited haptic technology has started gaining adoption in other mobile phones and there had been some talk that Apple might have been looking to adopt it.

A second Apple patent application suggests the detection of a user's individual fingerprints as an input method, a security implementation likely to be welcomed by many. It could also mean allowing different parts of the iPhone and any applications to open or locked to different users.

The last, and possibly least, Apple patent application places a Radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag reader in the actual display panel of a device, allowing it to read RFID tags. RFID tags are small circuits that can be embedded in objects for identification using a special reader. RFID tags are often used in enterprise supply chain management to improve the efficiency of inventory tracking and management.

Apple suggests that a RFID antenna could be placed in the touch sensor panel itself, allowing it to also be used as a RFID reader. As RFID tags become more common, this could add a useful function to future touch screen devices suggests MacRumors.

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