So wants Apple revolutionize the notebook keyboard

by Kelvin
So wants Apple revolutionize the notebook keyboard

Since the introduction of the 12-inch MacBook must Apple hear complaints about the notebook keyboard again and again. On the way from traditional mechanical keyboards to possibly extreme versions, which means tapping on a touch screen, now shows a possible alternative.

"Optical Keyboards": Apple's engineers show a novel Mac keyboard

Traditional keyboards work on a simple principle: pressing a key closes an electrical contact that the operating system recognizes and processes accordingly. While the way in which you look at the mechanical details can vary significantly, this simple idea remains.


In a recent patent (via Apple Insider) entitled "Optical Keyboards", which Apple on August 27, 2019, the engineers from Cupertino describe an alternative solution to recognize a keystroke. Instead of closing an electrical connection, for example by pressing on a letter, there are components under the keys of the new keyboard that emit a beam of light and sensors that can detect this beam. In the normal state, the light reaches the sensor – the button is not pressed. If the user starts typing, the undersides of the keys interrupt or change this light beam, which makes it possible to detect that a key has been pressed.

So wants Apple revolutionize the notebook keyboard 2 When not pressed, the light reaches a sensor. If you press the button, the light beam is interrupted and a keystroke detected. Image: Apple/ US Patent Office.

Apple describes various forms of the keys in the patent. So the necessary light could be sent not only under the keys, but alternatively also through a small opening in the mechanics. Again, the beam is interrupted when pressing, which in turn can be used for detection.

This could be a new MacBook Pro in 16-inch format:

MacBook keyboard of the future: so far only an idea

The emitted light could also serve a second purpose: keyboard illumination. A separate system, which makes the keys more visible in the dark, could possibly be omitted in the future.

However, the examples of the "optical keyboard" shown so far are only a vision of the future. Apple ensures always new ideas in such patents. These do not mean that the technologies shown in this form will really be found in real products.