Apple's Force Touch trackpads eliminated some moving parts from the MacBook, and keyboards may be the next force-sensitive component to come to the company's computers. A patent published on Thursday (April 7) shows off the possibility of a keyboard without any switches.
The patent filed with the United State Patent and Trademark Office refers to a "configurable, force-sensitive input structure for an electronic device" and suggests that Force Touch inputs will lead to fewer broken devices. Apple refers to the lack of a switch as "zero travel" and suggests that "micro-perforations" could show users where the outlines of the keys would be.
The images in the patent suggest that each key could potentially have its own Force Touch input and that palm rests may be customizable for additional features, like a number pad while you use a spreadsheet program.
Those who have experienced broken keyboard switches might love this idea, and the thought of a new setup for work, media playback and gaming is exciting. Still, we measure keyboard travel for every laptop we review at Laptop Mag, and it is often crucial to the typing experience.
My mind is often fooled by Force Touch trackpads, but the idea of typing long documents on keys with no travel is vexing to me. But if Apple wants to go even thinner than its 12-inch MacBook (and the recently announced HP Spectre), this may be the way to go about it.
If Apple could design keys that trick me into feeling like I'm typing with significant travel, this could be a game changer. From just the patent, it's hard to tell -- we'll have to wait to see if this makes it into an actual product before we can truly judge.
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