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

30 December 2020
If Apple is looking to replace the often-disliked Touch Bar, this may be the best way to do it.

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  • Anonymous

I personally read about the existence of such a keyboard from another manufacturer some weeks ago. Every physical button has an tiny oled screen which sits inside them. If I remember right the price for such a keyboard is around 250-300$.

  • Qurarra

Art Lebedev did this in 2009

  • Anonymous

Hamburger, 30 Dec 2020Not just a few years ago, from this link https://www.artleb... moreYes, but now it will get real πŸ˜‚

  • Anonymous

Anonymous, 30 Dec 2020Useful when you type in different languages I would rather get a touchscreen laptop or tablet than this one with no typing feelings

  • Anonymous

A7sii, 30 Dec 2020Lol...what kind of useless innovation is this? Useful when you type in different languages

  • Ace

Razer did this first is it? I mean check out their first Razer Blade Pro and Deathstalker Ulitimate which has some kind of similar concept.

Will the keys me clickable

  • Anonymous


  • AnonD-804996

Anonymous, 30 Dec 2020MacOS support touch screen, yes not on their own screen. Bu... moreLike I said, direct control. What you touch is what you control. It's why I find it funny when old people are all confused with touch controls when they are literally more logical and simple than phones with physical keypad were. Not even talking about gestures, just straight control of things. Touch is also great for dark places. I use my ASUS Transformer to watch movies and TV in the evening when I go to bed and I don't have to see keyboard or touchpad (especially since it's not lit with LED).

replace an expensive option that supposed to be normal buttons with an even more expensive option and make it "customisable"

  • Anonymous

Anonymous, 30 Dec 2020A keyboard with displays on the keys already existed a few ... moreThey're not patenting the type of tech they're patenting the way they achieve this tech... people should really stop commenting until they do some proper research...

There was a keyboard prototype like this, around the year 2005. It had tiny screens on every key and you could customize the keys to display letters and numbers (just like a regular keyboard), but you you could also make custom templates for gaming (for example, the WASD keys would change to display just movement arrows). Another use was to create shortcuts to different programs and you could set the program’s desktop icon to be displayed directly on the intended key.

It was pretty cool, but extremely expensive (at that time, anyway) to produce. If the fruit-logo company manages to mass produce such a keyboard, it will inevitably be copied by most 3rd party companies too.

  • TheBoon

It would be awesome to have this technology on a BlackBerry, that way it could display any language in any color on the physical keyboard, and also as a fully customizeable notification light.

  • Anonymous

Anonymous, 30 Dec 2020MacOS support touch screen, yes not on their own screen. Bu... more> Sure you may argue buying a screen protector for the screen.

And that's exactly what Apple will do should they ever make macbooks with a touch display. The touchscreen will cost you an additional $1000, and you can buy an official Apple screen protector for a very, very low price of just $999.

  • Anonymous

AnonD-804996, 30 Dec 2020Macbook Air or even Pro with touch screen would be awesome.... moreMacOS support touch screen, yes not on their own screen. But you can definitely connect a external touch display.

But I do not see the benefits of touching the laptop screen. Less, leave tons of fingerprint markings, especially when it's not advertised as scratch resistant. Sure you may argue buying a screen protector for the screen.

Secondly, I think you have that trackpad and keyboard so close to your hands, why would you rise your hands to touch the screen?
For example: 4 finger swipe up from trackpad, vs 4 finger swipe from the screen up? or

I believe there is nothing stopping MacOS to have touch screen, but if a touch screen Mac is going to happen, the design of the MacBook will have to change, for once have a 180 degree hinge, so you can fold it like a book. And patents like this, whereby the keyboard component may be repurposed for something.

  • Dex

There's a Keyboard out that does this called the Optimus Maximus, which is very expensive.
It does sound nifty and futuristic, but wouldn't an array of LCD screens drain that battery hugely? Seems a wierd direction to take after the arm power efficiency change.

  • AnonD-804996

Macbook Air or even Pro with touch screen would be awesome. I have a crappy little ASUS Transformer and while it's small (which I actually like) and slow as hell, it's great because of touch. It's just much more direct control for some things than touchpad. It's actually really weird Apple is avoiding it so hard. Makes me wonder why. It's not like laptops with touch would eat into iPad segment. People who want touch and physical keyboard wouldn't buy iPad anyway. And those who want something really slim and only with touch, they'll go with iPad.

  • Hamburger

Anonymous, 30 Dec 2020A keyboard with displays on the keys already existed a few ... moreNot just a few years ago, from this link

Such keyboards have been around for more than 10 yrs already.

  • Anonymous

I am confused is it still a physical keyboard or a touchscreen?

  • Tammy

Depends on the use case, might prove very innovative.