Apple floats revolutionary MacBook keyboard with display in each key

Chris Smith

Apple has just sorted out its MacBook keyboards after the butterfly debacle and could now looking to take them to the next level with the ability to change key labels dynamically.

After debuting the the variable Touch Bar on MacBook Pro models, Apple is looking to bring similar functionality to the trusty QWERTY scissor keys using a small OLED display within each key.

That’s according to a new patent filing unearthed this week, floating the idea of each keyboard having its own display to alter the keys depending on the language required or the user’s needs.

It could, for example, be useful for applications like gaming where specific actions would replace the standard letter, or blanks out the rest of the keys in order to only show the applicable keys. A specific mathematical keyboard, for example, could be handy to ensure those inclined aren’t diving into the alternate settings to access formulas.

Related: Best MacBook 2020

Spotted by Patently Apple (via Mac Rumors), the patent title called “Electronic devices having keys with coherent fiber bundles” explains how: “An electronic device may have a reconfigurable keyboard. The keyboard may be formed from an array of keys coupled to a housing. Each key may have a movable key member and an associated key display.

“Control circuitry in the keyboard may direct the key displays to display dynamically adjustable key labels for the keys. Each key movable key member may be formed from a fiber optic plate. The fiber optic plate may be formed from a coherent fiber bundle with opposing first and second surfaces. The first surface may be adjacent to the key display and may receive key label images from the key display. The second surface may face outwardly towards a user and may receive key press input from the fingers of a user while presenting key label images for viewing.”

It’s far from certain that Apple will take this route, even in the medium term future. The company is continually filing patents for potential new technologies it is exploring. However, this would be a great solution for gamers and bi-lingual Mac users, if Apple decides to make the complex tech a push.

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