Two weeks in the past, the US Patent & Trademark Workplace revealed a patent utility from Apple that associated to a doable future keyboard with a brand new design. It additionally lined a keyboard accent that might flexibly match over Apple’s standard keyboards for a MacBook, an iPad Professional keyboard or a desktop keyboard that protects the keyboard from particles and spilled liquids.
Whereas conventional keyboards available on the market as we speak vary from low-cost to costly, the one widespread factor that they’ve in widespread is their weak point to mess and spills from drinks which find yourself gumming up the keyboard and at occasions rendering them ineffective with both caught or non-functioning keys.
Apple’s patent submitting states that “Liquid ingress across the keys into the keyboard can harm electronics. Residues from such liquids, resembling sugar, could corrode or block electrical contacts, forestall key motion by bonding shifting elements, and so forth. Stable contaminants (resembling mud, filth, meals crumbs, and the like) could lodge below keys, blocking electrical contacts, getting in the way in which of key motion, and so forth.
The keys on a standard keyboard are spaced aside to offer key definition which is a property of a keyboard that describes how simply a person can inform the place a key’s situated by sight or contact. Sometimes, sturdy key definition correlates with giant gaps or grooves between the keycaps since these gaps or grooves assist orient the person’s fingers on the keyboard. These giant gaps pose an issue for amassing particles and so forth.” Apple’s invention addresses these points.
Apple’s invention pertains to keyboards and/or different enter gadgets that embody keycaps and not less than one versatile construction connected to the keycaps. The versatile construction, resembling, for instance, a versatile membrane or woven layer, can present versatile bridges or interkey helps between the keycaps that, together with the keycaps, make a considerably steady and smoothed high floor for the enter machine.
Apple provides that “The highest floor can subsequently extra simply be used as a touch-sensitive interface because it extra simply permits the person to slip their finger throughout the keyboard.”
This can be a idea that Patently Apple first lined in a 2014 patent report titled “Apple Reveals a New iPad Sensible Cowl that Features a Distinctive Multi-Contact Gesture Keyboard.” A couple of of the patent figures from report are offered beneath to offer a clearer understanding of what Apple is describing on this newest patent.
Apple additional notes on this patent submitting that the versatile construction and keycaps are designed to restrict ingress of undesirable materials into the keyboard by offering a considerably steady high floor for the keyboard.
The versatile construction can have a fluid-tight and/or unbroken high floor in order that any contaminants are held by the versatile construction spaced away from the within of the keyboard.
A membrane may be positioned between outer keycaps and inside parts of the keyboard resembling inside keycaps, collapsible domes, stabilizers (e.g., a butterfly or scissor hinge mechanism), and base elements (e.g., a substrate, base layer, housing, and many others.).
Fluid and particles that falls between the keycaps may be blocked and held by the membrane at a location the place it may be extra simply cleaned off or in any other case faraway from the keyboard. The fluid and particles can even thereby be prevented from coming into contact with electrically charged parts of the keyboard or interfering with the operate of domes, stabilizers, and different shifting elements of the keyboard.
A Keyboard Accent
Past future keyboards utilizing this new design, Apple additionally is considering making a keyboard accent that may observe the ideas of the brand new design that might match over keyboards you at present have.
Apple notes that “In some embodiments, a keyboard accent is supplied that may overlay and canopy keys on a keyboard to be able to improve its resistance to penetration by undesirable supplies, to raised configure the keyboard as a easy contact interface, and to offer completely different key definition and really feel than would in any other case be supplied by the keyboard. The keyboard accent can embody a set of inflexible keycaps and a versatile layer that holds the inflexible keycaps collectively.
The accent may be overlaid on a keyboard (e.g., a keyboard of a laptop computer laptop) to offer contact interface and easy sliding floor performance that might in any other case not be doable utilizing the keyboard alone.”
In patent FIG. 31 beneath we’re in a position see a schematic view of a keyboard accent #3100 and a MacBook (#3102) having a keyboard a built-in keyboard (#3104). The accent can overlay the keycaps of the machine’s keyboard with corresponding keys. Urgent on one of many keys of the accent could cause the corresponding key of the machine’s keyboard to maneuver beneath.
The accent may be retained to the pc utilizing magnets, clips, or interlocking elements on the accent and the pc.
In some instances, the accent and laptop are able to electrical communication with one another. The accent can comprise a touch-sensitive layer (e.g., a capacitive contact interface layer or a pressure-sensitive contact interface layer) configured to detect contact between a person instrument and the accent.
The accent can subsequently present electrical indicators to the pc through a wired or wi-fi communication interface that hyperlinks them to one another. Accordingly, the accent can be utilized to offer touch- or pressure-based enter to the pc.
Apple’s patent FIG. 2 above illustrates an iPad Professional keyboard that might presumably tackle this future keyboard design.
General Apple’s engineers are proven to be contemplating all kinds of designs to perform their purpose as offered beneath.
Within the final picture offered above we’re capable of see patent FIG. 26. Apple notes that the keyboard meeting (#2600) can comprise a set of resilient helps (#2610) positioned on the internet construction (#310). The resilient helps can comprise an elastically compressible materials resembling a foam rubber or a compressible polymer.
With Apple’s MacBook Professional and MacBook Air keyboards lately being reverting again to the Magic Keyboard mechanical design, it is tough to say when this newly designed keyboard might come to market.
But with that being mentioned, Apple engineers can stroll and chew gum on the identical time and so it is a future design that many Apple followers want to see come to market to lastly finish the issue of keyboards failing as a result of particles and liquid spills.
Secondly, the contact delicate gesture side of the invention has been an ongoing challenge with Apple engineers going again to not less than 2014. When this side of the keyboard design is discovered, we’ll probably see this one thing just like the “Magic Gesture Keyboard” come to market.
Apple’s patent utility was revealed two weeks in the past and was initially filed in Q1 2019. Contemplating that this can be a patent utility, the timing of such a product to market is unknown right now.
Apple inventors of this patent are listed as: Wang; Paul X.; (Cupertino, CA); Mathew; Dinesh C.; (San Francisco, CA); Hendren; Keith J.; (San Francisco, CA).
About our Cowl Graphic: Our cowl graphic covers Apple’s patent FIG. 28 in-part which is an isometric view of a high floor of a brand new keyboard design.