Apple patent describes all-glass, touch-sensitive keyboards for MacBooks

midian182

Posts: 6,790   +61
Staff member
Forward-looking: Could Apple's future MacBooks feature a solid-state keyboard (SSK) that uses an all-glass touch surface, much like the iPad? A recently granted patent suggests that such a product may become a reality.

Spotted by Patently Apple (via 9to5Mac), the keyboard has the advantage of being configurable depending on what app is being used. You could, for example, turn the entire section into a numerical keyboard for data entry work, or switch to a large drawing pad for creating something artistic.

As we know from phones and tablets, typing on a screen has plenty of drawbacks compared to using traditional, physical keys: touch typing is difficult, if not impossible; it doesn’t have the same feel as using a standard keyboard, and it’s hard to replicate the same feedback; slamming fingers into a glass surface for hours on end can get very uncomfortable.

Apple’s patent hopes to address these issues by making the screen-based keyboard feel closer to a physical one, thanks to a hybrid-like design.

“First, allowing a flexible screen to deform when a virtual key is pressed. Second, haptic feedback would be used to simulate the click of a real key. Third, an electrostatic charge could also be used to simulate the feeling of the edge of a key, making it feel like a real keyboard when you place your fingers on it ready to type,” it states.

One significant advantage of this keyboard is that there are no physical spaces between the keys that are often magnets for debris, making them more likely to fail. It’s something Apple’s familiar with, given all the problems with its old butterfly keyboard design.

As with every patent, there’s no guarantee the keyboard will become an actual feature. It could end up as an option for some MacBooks, though its appeal could be limited.

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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 4,900   +5,449
Have we forgotten about the 10.1" Lenovo YOGA Book?

Apple might be able to popularize this idea with their taptic engine providing tactile feedback, But I truly believe that human touch prefers the tactile feedback of a travelling key - regardless how much it travels.

Basically, you'll just end up with two iPads connected at the hinge.

The Touchbar, BTW didn't really work out that well.
lenovo-yoga-book-7173.0.0.1477518456.0.jpg
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 548   +940
"And for your new macbook pro you have two options: You can purchase a traditional keyboard add-on for your laptop (Yes, we're making that a thing now...For...Environmental reasons! Go Green!) or you can use your ipad pro as a touch sensitive keyboard!"
 

QuantumPhysics

Posts: 4,900   +5,449
"And for your new macbook pro you have two options: You can purchase a traditional keyboard add-on for your laptop (Yes, we're making that a thing now...For...Environmental reasons! Go Green!) or you can use your ipad pro as a touch sensitive keyboard!"

Considering how many OLD ipads there are out there, retasking them as touchscreen keyboards should have been done already.

Only really works well for hunt-and-peck typing.
 

m4a4

Posts: 2,359   +2,642
TechSpot Elite
I like the idea of no more crap getting in keyboards, but I need proper tactile feedback. I like to rest my fingers on the keyboard and I don't see anything but physical switches delivering the experience...
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 548   +940
Considering how many OLD ipads there are out there, retasking them as touchscreen keyboards should have been done already.

Only really works well for hunt-and-peck typing.

I'm all for repurposing but I don't think you can make an all finger touch keyboard work, not even if you're Apple it's just too much muscle memory from keyboard feedback for almost any laptop user.