Apple is researching a way to use a removable key from a MacBook Pro keyboard as a precision mouse. The idea of using a removable key as a mouse is not meant as a replacement for trackpads. Instead, it is offered as an alternative to carrying a separate accessory with a computer.
Removable MacBook keys could be used as a mouse
Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted patent No. 11,275,451, to Apple covering a “Deployable key mouse.” The patent application proposes that a regular keyboard, such as one on a MacBook Pro, might come with a special key that is removable and can act as a mouse.
“The removable key can have a position sensor,” says the patent application, “[so it] is operable as a computer pointing device… The removable key structure can therefore allow comfortable, portable, and precise pointer input for a computer input system.”
“In the succeeding years, the computer mouse has undergone a series of innovations including the addition of a right- and left-click button, a scroll wheel, an optical sensor, a trackball sensor, a laser sensor, and wireless communication to the host computer,” it continues. “In some cases, portable computing devices such as laptop and tablet computers benefit from using a peripheral mouse input device,” says Apple. “However, the user is then burdened with carrying the separate mouse with the computer, and the separate device can be redundant when the computer already has built-in pointing devices.”
The aim of this removable key is not to replace the trackpad. Instead, it would be an option at the disposal of users who may need more control than a trackpad traditionally allows.
The patent illustrations show two ways a key could be removed to be used as a mouse. One is a single key detaching and another shows a section of keys forming the mouse. “A mouse typically incorporates an ergonomic shape to fit comfortably into the hand,” says the application as it highlights how devices have changed over the years. “Which is one factor that has kept its size relatively stable.”
As with other patents Apple files, it is important to note that the company files many applications on a weekly basis, so we do not know for sure if this technology will be implemented in a future Apple device.
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