Apple is working on a new solid-state keyboard for future MacBooks – Patent

A new filing published patent by the U.S Patent and Trademark Office shows that Apple is working on a new solid-state keyboard technology for next-generation Macs. Titled “Configurable force-sensitive input structure for electronic devices” the patent reveals a new design of keyboard without physical keys and has a trackpad. The new keyboard technology would allow users to add their preferred interface and them anywhere on the MacBooks surface grid.

Apple

Similar to iPhone and iPad touchscreen keyboards, the new solid-state keyboard will use multiple layers to give the sense of touch to relieve the tiredness of typing on a hard surface and to function.

A configurable, force-sensitive input structure for an electronic device is disclosed. The input structure has a metal contact layer, a sense layer positioned below the metal contact layer, and a drive layer capacitively coupled to the sense layer. The input structure may also have a compliant layer positioned between and coupled to the sense layer and the drive layer, a rigid base layer positioned below the drive layer, and a set of supports positioned between the metal contact layer and the rigid base layer.

A new patent reveals that Apple will ship future MacBook might ship with new configurable force-sensitive solid-state keyboards

The filing argues that conventional laptops come with a trackpad and keyboard with keycaps, either protruding or placed in the casing. Those are “susceptible to damage” by debris, food particles, or experience internal damage and in some cases, “if a single component is damaged, lost, or becomes inoperable, the entire input device may become inoperable.” Therefore, an input structure (keyboard) with a metal contact layer for dimensionally- configurable input region, contact, and base portions, and the partially flexible contact portion of the casing would be a more durable alternative to conventional keyboards.

The patent describes the functionality:

The input structure comprises a metal contact layer defining a dimensionally-configurable input region, a sense layer positioned below the metal contact layer, a drive layer capacitively coupled to the sense layer, a compliant layer positioned between the sense layer and the drive layer, and a rigid base layer positioned below the drive layer, wherein the sense layer and drives layer cooperate to sense an force exerted on the metal contact layer.

The electronic device comprises a metal casing having a contact portion, and a base portion positioned below and coupled to the contact portion. The electronic device also includes a group of holes formed through the contact portion, and an input structure positioned within the casing and below the group of holes. The input structure includes a sense layer positioned below the contact portion of the metal casing, a drive layer positioned beneath the sense layer, a compliant layer positioned between and coupled to the sense layer and the drive layer, and a set of supports positioned within the compliant layer. The input structure may capacitively detect a force and a location of a force exerted on the contact portion of the metal casing.

The electronic device comprises a metal casing comprising a partially-flexible contact portion, and an input structure positioned below and secured to the partially-flexible contact portion of the casing. The input structure comprises at least one input area formed on a portion of the partially-flexible contact portion. The input structure is configured to provide a group of interchangeable input devices within the at least one input area formed on at least the portion of the partially-flexible contact portion.

Apple

It must be kept in mind that Apple files for several patents in a year and not every new technology passes through the development phase to become a product.

Via PatentlyApple

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About the Author

Addicted to social media and in love with iPhone, started blogging as a hobby. And now it's my passion for every day is a new learning experience. Hopefully, manufacturers will continue to use innovative solutions and we will keep on letting you know about them.

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