Apple’s New Patent Discusses the Possibility of Replacing Physical Keyboards with Touch-Based Capacitive Keyboards

Apple Capacitive Keyboard Patent

Apple has filed a new patent with the USPTO, detailing a capacitive keyboard that can work just like a physical keyboard. However, there are a few challenges to conquer before bringing this into fruition as Apple mentions in the patent filing. Apple recently talked about developing a crumb-resistant keyboard in a patent filing.

The primary issue with capacitive keyboards is that they don’t feel anything like conventional keyboards. Since they’re projections, it’s hard to make them tactile. Accidental key presses also remain a concern.

Apple talks about handling these issues with the help of an electrostatic charge, so that users have a feel of the edge of the keyboard. This will help the keyboard differentiate itself from a flat surface as the user’s fingers are immediately directed to the keyboard.

Further, the patent discusses how the screen or flexible display could register an impression of your key press, ascertaining the kind of pressure and force used to press that particular key. Haptic feedback will also be provided by default to make sure each key press simulates the feel of a conventional keyboard.

Apple details the reason for a keyboard like this to exist in its patent filing –

Traditional computing input devices, such as mice, keyboards, and trackpads, tend to operate using dedicated keys or buttons. The operation of each key or button may be tied to a particular function or command. However, traditional input devices lack the flexibility to accommodate expansive features offered by newer devices, operating systems, and software. As a further drawback, the dedicated keys or buttons of traditional input devices are unable to adapt to different user needs and preferences. Alternative input devices, such as touch-input devices, appear to offer some greater flexibility for input scenarios and customization than mechanical keyboards, mice, and similar input devices.”

It’s clear that something like this can be used in the future, although going by the language used in the patent filing, it seems like there’s still some time to go until we see a concept like this materializing. Apple perhaps is also looking at the possibility of adding customization options like with iOS keyboards, allowing users to switch keyboard patterns and key sizes as suited for them.

What do you think of this concept? Could these fully replace standard keyboards in the future?

[Via USPTO, Patently Apple]