Apple patents a Mac keyboard with configurable keys that use tiny displays

Enrique, 30 December 2020

A new patent has been granted to Apple by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The company has been toying with the idea of a new kind of keyboard to be used on its computers. This keyboard would feature configurable keys that contain tiny displays to label its function.

Apple patents a Mac keyboard with configurable keys that use tiny displays

Imagine a keyboard with “dynamic labels” that would change depending on what you are doing. This is already kind of like what Apple’s Touch Bar already does on its MacBook Pro models – instead, the entire keyboard would be able to show a different keyboard layout for another language, or perhaps it could show the keys’ actions when using editing software.

An electronic device may have a reconfigurable keyboard. The keyboard may be formed from an array of keys that are received within an array of openings in a housing. Each key may have a movable key member and an associated key display.

Keys could contain OLED, electrophoretic, or some other kind of display that would be ideal for this use-case. The keys themselves could be made of ceramic, glass, sapphire, or metal.

The idea is interesting and would certainly drive up the cost of Apple’s computers. It would also effectively eliminate Apple’s need to offer region-specific laptops when the laptop could potentially be able to display any keyboard that the user wishes to.

Even though Apple has filed a patent for such technology, the reality is we may never see such a cool concept make it to a consumer product.



Reader comments

"US Patent and Trademark Office" is broken. Patent trolls know how to game the system.

In my opinion, there're various use cases, 1. Local language typing will become easier as not everyone remembers the location of a letter in every font, 2. novelty value? 3. showing different font styles on the keyboard first, maybe? 4. ...

Have you folks never heard of stream decks?

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