Apple is thinking of a keyboard with a mini display for each key

Apple is thinking of a keyboard with a mini display for each key

A solution to change the appearance of the buttons on the fly, adapting them to different alphabetic characters or symbols for specific software

MacBook Pro 16 (Photo Antonio Dini) All laptop or desktop computer keyboards are freely configurable, because it is possible to assign to each key a different value from the one printed on the button. There are silicone masks to be superimposed on the keyboard with pre-set for languages ​​with different characters (Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Greek, Russian, etc ...) or for specific actions for professional software (for video or audio editing, for example), but there is an even more efficient method.

A recent patent filed by Apple at the US Patent & Trademark Office (Uspto) which focuses on a very pragmatic idea: each key hides a mini display that can show symbols, letters or characters of your choice to change the array on the fly without too much effort. A bit like the TouchBar introduced on MacBooks four years ago, but extended to the entire keyboard.

(Photo: Patently Apple) The special keyboard hypothesized in the patent includes diodes with a mini pixel grid to create the low resolution symbols or characters and consuming a minimum amount of energy so as not to affect the battery life too much. They would therefore not be designed to represent detailed images, but only of service. The introduction of this technology would open up very interesting scenarios.

It could indeed support any language and alphabet, but above all it would leave full freedom to associate the key arrays to specific software. For example, video editing programs could turn the keyboard into a concentrate of shortcuts for cuts, fast or slow scrolls and so on. Or in video games you could assign quick selections for the most adrenaline-pumping titles where every fraction of a second counts.

Finally, there would be a great benefit also at the production level because Apple would make only one keyboard model for each market without having to print variants (sometimes with some problems). The solution would fit both Macbooks and accessory keyboards for iMac and Mac Mini. A very interesting idea, who knows if it will remain only on a conceptual level or will find the way to production.

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