Latest in Gear

Image credit: Apple

Apple patent application describes touchscreen keyboards you can feel

Whether this becomes an actual thing remains to be seen.
324 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Sponsored Links

Apple

More than 10 years after the first iPhone, it's safe to say most people are used to typing on on-screen keyboards. But that doesn't they couldn't be made better, and it looks like someone at Apple is thinking about ways to do just that. Patently Apple pointed out a patent application where the company describes a technology that could allow virtual keyboards to more easily mimic their traditional mechanical counterparts.

All the usual caveats with patents apply here: just because Apple has applied for a patent on this technology doesn't mean we'll see it make its way into one of the company's future products. Moreover, it's best to think of a specific patent application as one of the many directions a company can take a particular technology.

With that said, Apple envisions using a combination of haptic motors as well as electrostatic charges to create a keyboard that feels like the real thing. Each "key" would emit its own charge, and that charge would get stronger as you move your finger closer to the edge of the mechanism. What enables the keyboard to feel like a mechanical one is that your fingers would conduct the charges created by the keys. In this way, the keys could attract and repulse your fingers, as well as create the sensation of friction and texture. Together, these features of the keyboard would allow you to touch type on it, according to Apple.

The one factor that makes this patent more plausible than the ones we usually see is that the company is no stranger to removing hardware keys and buttons from its devices. Take the iPhone, for example. Even before Apple removed the home button altogether from the iPhone X, the company replaced the iPhone 7's physical home button with a solid-state one. Still, we're likely years away from more tactile feeling touchscreens and MacBooks without physical keyboards.

Update: This post has been updated to note Apple has applied for, but not yet received, a patent on this technology.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
324 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

Engadget’s guide to Home Entertainment

Engadget’s guide to Home Entertainment

View
US says digital assets are covered by money laundering and disclosure laws

US says digital assets are covered by money laundering and disclosure laws

View
San Francisco's proposed office would prevent 'reckless' tech rollouts

San Francisco's proposed office would prevent 'reckless' tech rollouts

View
Porsche's Macan EV will fully replace its gas counterpart in a few years

Porsche's Macan EV will fully replace its gas counterpart in a few years

View
Crowdfunded case will give your Windows PC that Mac Pro look

Crowdfunded case will give your Windows PC that Mac Pro look

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr