Apple suggests a three-pronged technique for making the screen-based keyboard sound like a real keyboard.
Apple has been awarded a patent for a MacBook with a solid-state keyboard and an all-touch surface that can be reconfigured according to the user’s preferences.
As a consequence, whether you deal with numbers and require a large numeric keyboard, or if you’re an artist and need a bigger drawing field, you should be able to change the keyboard accordingly. According to news, Apple’s long-term ambitions for the MacBook include replacing mechanical keyboards with touch-sensitive surfaces.
These proposals, of course, have their own set of constraints. Touch-typing is not possible on an iPad-style keyboard, and typing on a glass keyboard for long periods of time is uncomfortable. Apple, on the other hand, has patents that directly address these problems.
Apple suggests a three-pronged technique for making the screen-based keyboard sound like a real keyboard. The first will allow a flexible screen to change shape when a virtual key is pressed; the second will use haptic feedback to mimic the click of real keys; and the third will use an electrostatic charge to simulate the sound of the key’s edge, making it feel like a real keyboard when your fingertips are on it.
Apple took the first step in this direction in 2015 when they replaced a rotating trackpad surface with a Force Contact one that simulates clicks. While the new patent for a solid-state keyboard poses considerable problems in terms of making a computer keyboard sound like a physical one, Apple has argued that there are significant advantages if this becomes a possibility.
Mechanical keyboards, according to Apple, are vulnerable to malfunction and have problems with debris being stuck in them (like it was with the butterfly keyboard that Apple is currently dealing with a class action lawsuit for). On notebooks, traditional input devices such as keyboards and trackpads are vulnerable to injury, and damage to internal components caused by collected debris will make the computer inoperable if it gets bad enough.
Drops and mechanical shock are also dangerous to mechanical systems. Then, with a solid-state solution, the user can configure the keyboard and trackpad interface to suit whatever they’re doing at the moment. Opening a specific app can adjust the keyboard to match the app’s input requirements in certain cases.
A configurable, force-sensitive input structure can be used as a variety of input instruments for gadgets, including a keyboard, a number pad, and a trackpad. The computer in question could have a single input structure to create several distinct input devices, or it could use multiple input structures to create multiple distinct input devices.
The positioning of input devices on the force-sensitive input structure can be customized, and input devices can be moved to various positions on the packaging depending on the user’s preferences. “Similarly, user input, the function of an associated electronic system, software, firmware, other hardware, and so on, can resize or reshape one or more of those input devices.”
As expected, configurable inputs could allow for a different symbol or emoji keyboards from the alphanumeric keyboards. To be frank, most users are and may be reluctant to replace their conventional keyboards, and Apple is mindful of this, and could ultimately follow a hybrid solution of reconfigurable spaces on the keyboard.
“A contact section made from a flexible (or partly flexible) substrate that may bend or deform through and/or contact a portion of an input stack-up can be used in the electronic system. The contact component of an electronic unit, for example, maybe a metal sheet or a piece of the metal housing.”
According to the patent, “the input stack-up can capacitively feel the deformation of the contact portion caused by the application of an input force on a corresponding contact portion of the electronic device.” Apple will not build this or take a call overnight, as it does with all patents.