The reports this week of an Apple patent for “transitioning between modes of input” underscores my conviction that we’ll see touchscreen iMacs in the near future. I think Apple is preparing us for this with the release of its Magic TrackPad for Macs.

Some feel there’s little demand for a touch screen computer. However, the growing popularity of iPhones, iPod touches, iPads and similar devices from Apple and other companies are making touch technology second nature to many people, especially young folks. It’s just a matter of time before they want said technology on their computers.

Just as importantly (if not more so), Apple CEO Steve Jobs obviously LOVES touch technology, so it’s inevitably going to find its way into all of Apple’s line-up.

The patent mentioned previously provides a transition between input modes when the orientation of the display crosses a predetermined threshold. In other words, the display changes when the screen is tilted. Presumably, if you’re using your touch enabled iMac in its “normal,” upright position, you use your keyboard and mouse as usual. Tilt it, and it goes into “touch” mode.

The patent also suggests that when you switch between a high-resolution mouse and keyboard mode and a touch-based interface, the onscreen icons themselves might change. That’s a pretty cool idea, almost moving back and forth between Mac OS X and iOS. But, eventually, I think the two will merge until — on the Mac line — they’ll be totally melded and virtually indistinguishable.

Maybe we’ll get that touch iMac sooner rather than later. And when it arrives, I hope Apple makes me happy and adds USB 3.0 support and (yes, you know I’m going to mention it) support for Blu-ray playback.

— Dennis Sellers