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Apple patent shows hypothetical touchpad keyboard

In the last few days, a new patent filed by Apple has been published. It was filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in September, and details a force-sensitive touchpad keyboard equipped MacBook. If the technology is finally introduced into an Apple device it'll mean fewer devices being thrown away due to a broken keyboard.

In the background information of the filed patent, Apple writes:

“However, conventional input devices, such as keyboards and track pads for a laptop, are susceptible to damage. For example, debris and other contaminants may enter the casing of the electronic device through the keycap apertures and may subsequently damage the internal components of the electronic device. The damage to the internal components may render the electronic device inoperable.”

Aside from increasing the longevity of the laptop, the keyboard will be capable of doing a fair few tricks. Some of those mentioned in the patent include:

  • Something similar to Apple's Force Touch technology would be present, allowing users to do extra functions from the keyboard by applying various degrees of pressure.
  • Small perforations in the touchpad's surface that light up to show different keys and letters.
  • A numpad which can be optionally displayed by the trackpad.
  • A transformable display which can adapt to a situation (i.e. turn into a larger trackpad).

At this stage, there is no guarantee that Apple will incorporate the technology mentioned in the patent into a real device, and if they do we may be waiting a number of years. With Apple's focus being on usability it may decide that a keyboard without physical keys is too difficult to type on, and kick the idea out.

Source: United States Patent and Trademark Office via SlashGear | Image via USPTO

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