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Apple patents the ‘reconfigurable’ Mac keyboard with a small screen for each key



Last month, Apple patented a new version of the Touch Bar with built-in Force Touch technology. The US Patent & Trademark Office has now granted Apple a patent for a “reconfigurable” Mac keyboard built with a small screen for each key, so that the keyboard can display different characters according to the user’s preferences.

While the idea may sound like what the Touch Bar is doing at the moment, this new keyboard would work differently. The physical keys would still be there, but the patent shows that the keys on this new keyboard contain a super small screen for each key instead of regular engraved labels.

As pointed out by Apple patent, the patent discloses a keyboard with dynamic labels generated by organic LEDs with pixel arrays. These monitors are not expected to have high resolution or other fancy specifications, as they should focus on displaying basic characters.

This will allow users to set up different keyboard layouts that also change key labels ̵

1; such as a specific layout for games, programming or video editing. Apple could also create a single keyboard model to be used worldwide, as the keys for this new keyboard will be able to display different characters based on users’ settings.

For example, the user may want to switch a keyboard between a first format (such as an English language format) and a second format (such as a Greek language). In response to user input to switch keyboards, control circuits in an electronic device can adjust the key labels displayed by the key views from English letters to Greek letters, thereby switching the keyboard from the first format to the second format.

The patent illustrations reveal that Apple is considering using this new technology for both the built-in keyboards found in MacBooks and the standalone keyboards built for Mac desktops, such as the iMac, Mac mini and Mac Pro.

Keep in mind that Apple frequently registers new patents, so this does not necessarily mean that these features or technologies will be added to a real product in the future. However, these specific patents are an indication that the company is at least working on some new things to improve its physical keyboards – which have gone through a lot in recent years.

Want to be interested in a new keyboard with reconfigurable keys for your Mac? Let us know in the comments below.

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