Using similar technology currently found in Apple’s Magic Mouse, the concept designs show plans for buttons which could in theory be implemented on a next-generation range of MacBooks, iPods or Apple TV remotes.
The Apple patent application, originally filed back in late 2008, describes designs for invisible buttons that would lie flush within a device, made possible by the use of laser-cut, micro-perforated holes. These “keys” would either have edge markings or would have a distinctive texture to make the location of each key obvious. Other than that, the function would only become visible when you touch them.
Minimalist design is clearly a top priority for Apple and multi-touch control is a big winner too. A prime example of this is its recently released Magic Mouse, which it used in this patent as an example of how the technology could be applied to a device like a MacBook.
Apple’s proposed invisible Scrolling Trackpad would harness the power of multi-touch gestures and would also be able to detect how fast a finger was moving over it.
Buttons could even become active only when the device is in a certain state. As an example, they might only light up when you insert a DVD or once you fire up iTunes. Others could only illuminate if you’re in a darkened room, or if you went to eject a disk.
The patent also goes one step further, suggesting it may be possible to ditch traditional keys for an entire keyboard together, replacing them completely with invisible controls.
We guess that would be one way to solve the problem of toast crumb-infected keyboards.