Apple envisions touch sensitivity for keyboards

As described in a freshly-published patent filing, the keyboard on future MacBooks could incorporate "keystacks" with touch sensors and visual feedback.

apple-patent-filing-keyboards.jpg
Apple/USPTO

Your Apple keyboard of the future could let you swipe across the keys to perform actions now handled by the trackpad.

Published on Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark Office, an Apple patent dubbed "Multi-functional keyboard assemblies" highlights ways to expand the power of the traditional keyboard through the use of "keystacks."

Integrated into the keyboard, these keystacks would consist of a keycap, circuitry, and other components to improve the functionality of each key. One such improvement would be touch sensitivity.

Using touch gestures, you could swipe across a range of keys just as you now swipe across a touchpad. One example listed in the patent filing: swiping from right to left across a series of keys could turn a page in an e-book.

The keys would also be able to respond to your touch through haptic feedback, meaning pressing down a key could trigger greater resistance, a click, or even a vibration. Visual feedback would also be part of the package. A display on each key could show you certain information through a transparent section of the keycap.

The core idea behind such a keyboard would be to replicate some of the functions now provided by a mouse or trackpad. Even though the patent filing displays a laptop, desktop keyboards would certainly benefit from more features that reduce your reliance on a mouse. But as always, a filing doesn't necessarily mean Apple's keyboard technology will ever see the light of day.

(Via AppleInsider)

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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