Apple has today been granted a new patent by the US Patent and Trademark Office, detailing on how we may not see those separate touch pads on the keyboard. This new hybrid keyboard has been named “Fusion”, and has been developed by Apple inventors John Elias and Steven Martisauskas.
According to the illustrations provided by Patently Apple, the fusion keyboard would still feature the mechanical keys but each key top would be like a tiny track pad with capacitive touch sensors. Thus one could click, scroll and perform the gestures by moving fingertips across key tops which can also be pressed down in multiple stages to type text, enabling multi touch gesture support.
Apple’s patent describes the keyboard as being “able to determine each hand’s input individually, allowing one hand to use touch input for cursor movement and the other hand to enter data by button presses.”
The working of key presses resemble to multistage switches, where key could be pressed down to first level to input the letter while pressing the same key to second level could act as a mouse click. To discern the two types of presses, time based approach is used, meaning if the key “F” is touched, a physical key depression must be made within a certain amount of time to recognize a keystroke, otherwise it would be a touch input.
While this latest innovation by Apple does seem intriguing, it remains to be seen if it is going to be used in any of the Apple devices, as recently Apple also introduced its Force Touch technology in the touch pads of new devices and it has also shown its inclination to use new butterfly-mechanism Mac Book keyboard.
This new hybrid design may be used for Pro machines like the MBP, where greater key travel still has a lot of value for the target market or it is also possible that Apple keyboards might also get this feature for use with iMacs and Mac Minis.