A major technology company, Apple, has registered a new patent that removes keyboards from laptops. The new patent, issued March 30, defines “a powerful sensor input technology”, which replaces keyboard keys with small displays. This allows the keyboard to change based on user preferences, instead of following the standard QWERTY Configuration.
Essentially, Apple seems to be expanding the technology used in the touch bar used on current Macbooks. That’s a tiny OLED display strap lying on top of Macbook Pro keyboards right now. According to the copyright, the new keyboard will still have “house-linked” keys and a “moving key” on each key and a “corresponding key display.” This suggests that Apple does not remove the relevant feedback on keyboards, but I try to make each key work multiple.
“Each key link can be constructed with a fiber optic plate. The fiber optic plate can be constructed of a series of compatible fiber with the first and second opposing surfaces. The first location may be close to the key display and may receive important label images from the key indicator. The second face can look outwards towards the user and can receive a key input from the user’s fingers while presenting important label images for viewing, “said the copyright.
Of course, it is unclear whether Apple will use this technology on larger Macbooks. Changing the keyboard can lead to significant changes in users’ learning, something difficult to determine on consumer electronic devices. Current keyboards are built on years of research and science, and they depend on the muscle memory we users have built over the years.
On the other hand, technologies like these can solve some of the limitations brought about by physical keyboards. For example, Apple can add emoji to the keyboard and come up with new functions and shortcuts.