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Apple applies for 'disappearing button' patent

Sean Hollister
April 30, 2010
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You know that little sleep indicator light on the front of your new MacBook Pro -- the one that simply disappears when your notebook is wide awake? Apple wants to do that for buttons, too. Cupertino's latest patent application is for pressure-sensitive, capacitive touchscreen materials it could build right into the surface of its aluminum-clad devices, and identify with laser-cut, micro-perforated holes that let light shine from within. According to the filing, the technology could potentially be used to eliminate existing buttons in favor of a smooth, solid slab, and / or integrate new ones into surfaces that weren't previously considered for use. Engineers imagine light-up controls on a laptop's lid that could be used while closed for things like USB charging and media playback, and local heat and sound sensors that selectively light up interface opportunities when users are in close proximity. Not bad, Apple. As long as you let us keep our nice, springy keyboards, we're all for revolutionizing the rest of modern input.

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