If you're a regular desktop, laptop or notebook user, you've probably had to contend with keyboard grime on at least one occasion. Food crumbs, grease and other less-than-sanitary bits of junk seem to find their way into keyboards no matter how hard their owners try to prevent it.
Manually cleaning your keyboard can be a hassle and some laptop owners can't easily remove their device's keycaps at all - a frustration Apple understands if a patent the company filed back in 2016 is anything to go by.
"Liquid ingress around the keys into the keyboard can damage electronics. Residues from such liquids may corrode or block electrical contacts, getting in the way of key movement and so on," the patent filing reads. The filing goes on to propose a number of unique solutions to the problem, collectively dubbed "Ingress Prevention for Keyboards."
Apple's remedies are as complicated as they are creative. For example, one of the company's proposed solutions would involve an internal "bellows" that would use air pressure to blow crumbs, liquid and other unwanted materials out of the spaces between a MacBook's keys and its frame.
One of the company's proposed solutions would involve an internal "bellows" that would use air pressure to blow crumbs, liquid and other unwanted materials out of the spaces between a MacBook's keys and its frame.
Should an air-based solution fail, Apple's patent filing also mentions a "guard" system that would sit between a MacBook's keys and its main system hardware below. This system could include wipers, flaps and brushes that could block crumbs and liquid from reaching precious internal components.
As interesting as these solutions sound, it should be noted that a mere patent filing means very little by itself. Companies, Apple included, file patents for technology they never intend to use all the time, often to prevent competitors from using it first. In other words, don't toss your cans of compressed air out just yet.