September 12, 2018
A recent Apple patent filing suggests that the company is considering designing a MacBook without a physical keyboard.
In 2016, Apple introduced a MacBook Pro with a “Touch Bar”. The Touch Bar is a strip of virtual keyboard keys that is placed above the physical keys.
Apple’s recent patent filing expands the concept of a virtual keyboard first introduced by the Touch Bar:
A first design envisions a computer that replaces the traditional keyboard with another digital display. This display would permit custom inputs that would vary depending upon which application is being used. Underneath the display would be sensors, effectively allowing the computer to detect the tapping of virtual keys.
A second design adds a digital display but maintains a physical keyboard. In contrast to the first patent, this keyboard would feature a touch-sensitive digital display surrounding the standard keyboard. as opposed to replacing it. Put simply, this patent would expand the touch bar from not being solely above the keyboard but also on the sides.
A third design would take the standard keyboard and recess it deeper into the computer, effectively providing a flat surface. The physical keys would be covered by a fabric cover and sealed with a membrane underneath. Ultimately, this design would maintain the normal function of the keyboard but prevent any small items from getting stuck.
Apple is evidently considering a new style of keyboard for the future. However, as with all patent filings, this does not confirm that the previously mentioned keyboard designs will be incorporated into Apple’s MacBook.
Author: Steve Inglis