Innovation remains one of the most important values of the Cupertino company. This explains the fact that it is today the holder of all kinds of patents, among which we find rather original keyboard projects.
Previously, information about a probable glass keyboard had leaked in the specialized press. Now, persistent rumors evoke keyboards with aluminum keys that are fully customizable.
An aluminum keyboard that mixes physical keys and LEDs
Information about this proposed new keyboard design from Apple Labs has come to light via a leaked patent filing in the press. Said patent describes a futuristic MacBook keyboard that can change what is displayed on the keys.
Unlike previous concepts of touchscreen keyboards, this one would use physical keys and LEDs to display letters, numbers, or all kinds of characters. At first glance, the keyboard still looked like a standard keyboard. The key housing would be aluminum, not plastic, and when the MacBook is off, there would be no visible marks on the keys.
In practice, pressing a button is enough to activate the mechanism. According to the information in the patent document, the future keyboard would be made of the same material as the rest of the laptop. This marriage should probably result in uniform design, color and stiffness.
It should be noted that Apple, which is now putting on India, has already used aluminum keycaps on the PowerBook G4. But unlike the newer keyboard technology, these had regular key markings.
Its key function: an ability to adapt according to the context of use
The other important information about the future keyboard is related to the keys that light up when the MacBook is on. Unlike current plastic keys, this keyboard’s light would only be visible from the glyph on the keycap. Even better, the aluminum key housing wouldn’t allow light to pass through the edges of the keys.
On the patent, we can also read that if the user needs access to symbols, emojis or even punctuation, the keyboard would be able to automatically modify what is displayed on the keycap. In fact, the future keyboard is presented as a physical keyboard with such keyboard software that can be found on the iPhone.
For the keyboard to be able to change the display depending on the context, Apple has relied on the use of a mini-LED backlight. This device is fixed directly under the aluminum key plate. In this way, each key on the keyboard has cut-out perforations.
Also, each key acts as a low resolution screen, enables a letter or a glyph. Note that this technology is different from the use of miniature screens, as in the case of a Steam Deck. Finally, it must be said that the keyboard will not be able to produce high resolution images like an OLED screen.
Source: Apple Insider