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Future MacBook Keyboards Could Have Touchscreen Keys

A new Apple patent could change the way you type. A filing published by the US Patent and Trademark Office today (May 1) show the tech giant is working on keyboards that could have capacitive displays on them that trigger different keys, depending on whether you tap or depress the buttons.

For instance, pressing the Q or W keys could enter the letters, while tapping them would input separate characters that are displayed on the key's screen. The patent also describes how swiping particular sets of buttons will trigger actions such as flipping pages of an e-book, meaning the keys could replace traditional trackpads altogether, according to Apple Insider.

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The patent also describes how the characters on each key can change so you can decide what symbol you want to enter. Each key could also light up when you hit it to provide visual feedback.

We've seen similar keyboard technology in the Art Lebedev Optimus Popularis keyboard that replaced traditional keyboard buttons with customizable OLED screens. Since it was an external accessory that cost a whopping $1,000, not many people picked it up.

Razer also offered similar typing technology (called Switchblade) on its Blade Pro gaming PC, which features a 4-inch multi-touch LCD track panel and 10 dynamic adaptive tactile keys built into its keyboard.

It's not clear when this new technology will show up in Apple's products, but the company recently shaved $100 off the price of its MacBook Airs, which could be a way to clear stock before announcing new laptops. We look forward to seeing what Apple has to share come June, when the company holds its Worldwide Developers Conference.