To show the different states of the keys, to switch from qwerty to qwerty or even display your favorite shortcuts in a game, Apple has thought about a keyboard where each key has a screen, making it completely customizable.
© 01net.com Apple patents a customizable keyboard with small screens on each key
Traditionally, Macs are distinguished from the competition by their keyboard, which Apple takes special care of. The sad stampede of butterfly keyboards finally led to the more durable Magic Keyboard, but the Cupertino giant doesn’t seem to want to stop there.
Thus, a patent, validated on December 29, 2020, details the operation of a keyboard, each key of which embeds a small independent screen, protected by a second layer.
Each small slab would display the usual letters or signs, or additional elements depending on the context. A useful detail on a daily basis, each key could also display its “state”. For example, if it’s locked in uppercase.
Apple seems to favor OLED technology, already at work in its Touch Bar, and for which Apple has also developed interesting low-power technologies in this context.
The entire fingerboard could be made of ceramic, metal, polymer, or even sapphire, which is scratch resistant. Apple could also opt for a glass surface, which is reminiscent of a patent validated last July.
Thus, the entire keyboard could be customized at will, to switch from one language to another, or to “temporarily convert a standard keyboard into a gaming keyboard, where the keys respond to particular actions”.
Apple believes that this keyboard could be embedded in a laptop as well as in the keyboard of a desktop Mac. Better still, the integration of these keys which adapt could be done independently of the mechanical system used. Apple could therefore use it with its current Magic Keyboard without having to reinvent the wheel and risk problems.
Source: Patently Apple