Apple Enters Patent for Physical Keyboard Without Mechanical Switches

The drama that Apple is currently experiencing in terms of keyboard it seems to have days numbered, if the rumors are correct and the company leaves the current butterfly mechanism and adopts, in the future 16-inch MacBook Pro, the traditional scissor design. But there may be even more changes to come.

A patent published by Apple and recently spotted by AppleInsider describes such a Optical Keyboard (Optical Keyboard), a physical keyboard technology for future computers or peripherals that would not involve any type of mechanical switch, simply based on the action of light. What?!


I explain: since the personal computer revolution (and before!) Until today, the fundamental technology underneath almost all keyboards is essentially the same. Whether on a heavy mechanical keyboard or on the thin butterfly keyboard of the new MacBooks Air, the action of the components is carried out by means of touching electronic contacts, one on the key and the other on the receiver base, sending signals to the device in question.

In Apple’s view, this would not exist. You would keep pressing keys to get results on the screen, but those keys would be “empty” at the bottom, with emitting systems and light sensors that would know which key (s) is being pressed each time. time. Going into the more technical details, this is how the patent is described:

An input device [o teclado] it can include a button or key that uses a light sensor to detect keystroke events. The light sensor can detect differences in the amount of light received according to the key or button press. The button or key may include an opaque structure that blocks part of the light when the key is pressed. The button or key may include a light source, such as an LED. A portion of the source light can illuminate the key or button to provide backlight, and the other portion can be used by the light sensor to detect partial or complete compression of the key.

The idea is certainly promising: because it involves far fewer moving parts, we can be talking about a much more durable and reliable keyboard. In addition, due to the “separate” nature of each key, repairs would also be much simpler, since the failure of a key would not require changing the keyboard as a whole – just that component.

Of course, being just a patent, Apple may never actually implement the technology. Still, the idea is a good one, isn’t it?