There's probably no greater source of upcoming tech information than the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The USPTO Web site is often the first place we find info on new products and emerging technologies, and now that the whole thing is online and (fairly) easy to search, companies are finding it very hard to keep this usually closely held information away from enterprising bloggers.
Our pals over at Gear Log (or Glog, as we like to call it) have found a new patent filing (actually an extension to an existing patent, but that's splitting hairs) from Apple called "Wide touchpad on a portable computer." It's exactly what it sounds like: "A touch pad [that] has a width that extends substantially into the palm rests areas." According to the helpful illustrations supplied with the patent application, it's basically (in theory) a touch pad that runs the entire width of your laptop.
Wouldn't that get in the way when you're typing? That's where the inventive part comes in. The application claims that, "The wide touchpad filters each contact...to either accept the contact as an intentional input command (e.g., cursor control command), or reject the contact as unintentional (e.g., when operating as a palm rest)."
In other words, it would somehow be able to tell if you were using the touch pad on purpose, or just resting your wrists on it while typing. Even better--this could also be a natural extension of Apple's multitouch gestures used in the iPhone. Of course, it's just a patent application, so it may take years to go from line drawing to physical product, if the technology is ever used at all.