As per usual, the application came through law firm Morrison and Foerster, and was originally filed in June of this year. According to the paperwork on file at USPTO.gov, this is:
A method of performing operations on a computing system having a touch-sensitive surface, the method comprising; tracking the paths of multiple distinguishable contacts, the contacts corresponding to touch devices as they move on or near the surface at the same time, wherein tracking is based on at least shape and position data corresponding to the contacts; determining scaling motion information corresponding to two or more of the multiple contacts based on the tracked paths of the contacts; generating a scaling gesture control signal based on the scaling motion information.
This reminds us of an earlier Apple touch technology patent application we looked at more than two years ago, for a wide laptop touchpad that could distinguish between intentional and unintentional input. The new application also takes current tablet and touchscreen technology to task, saying:
Touch screens and touchpads often distinguish pointing motions from emulated button clicks or keypresses by assuming very little lateral fingertip motion will occur during taps on the touch surface which are intended as clicks. Inherent in these methods is the assumption that tapping will usually be straight down from the suspended finger position, minimizing those components of finger motion tangential to the surface.
There's little else to tie this documentation directly to an Apple tablet, a project long-rumored, and currently thought to be coming sometime early next year, and some commentators even think this patent refers to mouse technology, not a tablet screen.
Interestingly, this comes on the heels of the recent rumors about an imminent refresh of the MacBook laptop line, keeping Steve Jobs and company in the public eye as we head into the all-important holiday shopping season.