Apple has filed a range of patents designed to extend the capacity of its existing products, it has been revealed.

The patents include those for a multi-touch device that can be used by the whole hand, with different parts of the hand triggering different actions.

This patent (filed a month after the introduction of the iPhone in January 2008) suggests a larger multi-touch display than found on the iPhone, and is sure to give rise to yet more speculation that Apple may be developing a tablet Mac solution, combining technologies first fielded in the iPhone and iPod touch with those more commonly found in its laptops.

As reported by Electronista, the hand touch patent combines three filings, including those for a sensor arrangement capable of translating input from different parts of the hand, and patents for the conductors and sensors used in this.

As explained, the technology would understand that a user wanted to type something the moment a user places the palms of both hands on the device. The company notes the inventions don't have to be used with displays, and can also be employed within existing control interfaces.

An additional batch of patents describe new implementations of the Apple + Nike initiative, while another patent will allow use of 8cms optical discs inside the 12cms-accomodating optical drives currently found in Macs.

The Apple + Nike patent describes a number of solutions for calibration and handling of physiological data, and could suggest an iPod with a built-in workout monitor that accepts voice commands, suggests MacNN.