Although we already have new products on the table, this does not mean that Apple does not continue to innovate in its headquarters, to bring new iterations and functionalities, both to products that we already know, and to products that are yet to arrive. And recently a new patent registered by those from Cupertino was revealed, in which, if what they want to do materializes, they are going to reinvent keyboards.
From time to time, new patents come to light that explain how Apple wants to implement a new type of system, to improve the user experience and functionality in the products they have. If we have already seen the concept of a glass iMac, a modular MacBook or a voice intercom on previous occasions, now it is the turn of the keyboards.
Computer keyboards maintain the same traditional shape that we all already know. A surface with integrated keys, which when you press them you write a character. However, Apple has thought that perhaps a keyboard does not have to be a keyboard. And it should not be something immobile in terms of physical form and usability. What if parts of the keyboard are converted into a functional mouse? Precisely, this is what this new invention is about.
A keyboard that converts into a functional mouse
Deployable Key Mouse is the name of the document that Apple patented on October 10, 2023. The summary of the document (the abstract) begins by explaining the following: «A device for interacting with a computer may include a aggregator, with a set of keys with click mechanisms that are placed inside this aggregator and a key structure that can be removed, and that remains functional, either in the first configuration, inside the aggregator, or in the second configuration, out”.
In other words: We have a keyboard with keys that can be removed. When a key is inside the keyboard it has a specific function. When this key is removed, it continues to function outside the keyboard.
But, nevertheless: What does this double functionality consist of? What is it about this key that keeps it operational when we have removed it from its original location? The document explains the following: “The key that is removed may have a positioning sensor.” That is, the key will know how it should act, depending on where it is placed.
Now, where is the role of the mouse? “In the second configuration, the side that is removed is operational as a pointing device for the computer, thanks to the position sensor.” They add that “the extrapole key structure can house a comfortable, portable and precise pointing device to interact with the computer.”
That is, thanks to the key position sensor, we have a fully functional mouse to operate the Mac, and it is located inside the keyboard. But when we have this mouse-key inserted again into the main structure, it will behave like a common key.
In the images included in the patent you can see what these positioning sensors will be like, as well as the system by which the keys will be extrapolated from within the main casing.