Apple Patents a Responsive Glass Keyboard

Apple's existing keyboard is polarizing with very little travel. But there may be new innovation for future MacBook keyboards. A new Apple patent could deliver good news for people looking for some change.

The patent describes a mechanism through which various layers of glass would be able to shape themselves based on what they’re being used for. Combine that ability with haptic feedback and the end result would be a touchscreen display that could simulate a real keyboard. (Far more info can be found here at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.)

All of the usual caveats about tech parents apply here. Apple might never use this technology in a product, and even if it does, it might not be exactly what people expect. Companies file patents for tech they might be able to use in the future, not just tech they are certain to use in an imminent product. Don’t misread this as “Apple Is Making a Microsoft Courier-Style Device.”

But it would make sense for the company to explore technologies like this. (Not least because its last few attempts to create its own key switches have had some issues.) Switching to this wonder glass could allow for more flexible input methods or devices that don’t fit into the existing categories we have today. Keyboards could take a new form.

Combine that prospect with reports that many companies are working on “foldable” products, and it seems that this could be the type of tech that others may try to emulate.

We do have a parting question, though, which is what could Apple even call a device featuring this technology? iPads? MacPad? iFolio? MacBookPad? iPadBook? Apple Courier? Hats off to the engineering department for designing this tech, but good luck to the marketing department tasked with naming the thing.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.

  • PGFan1
    Looks like it would be iFragile.
  • mischon123
    Touchscreen with silkscreened or stuck on keys.

    5$ for a cheap LCD and 20c for stickerkeys with the haptics of a microwave button field.

    Fine for Appleusers who dont know what a good keyboard is all about.
  • Gam3r01
    But why
  • roland.gatti
    Needs more cowbell.
  • AndyWiryaPeaceful
    Apple wants to sell another $199 accessory
  • USAFRet
    "All of the usual caveats about tech parents apply here."

    While parents may have a say in this, I doubt that is the proper word in this context.
  • popatim
    The Keys will form as needed for the screen/app. So you can change apps, say from a game to excell, and go from something like a gamepad to a 10key on-the-fly.

    This technology was debuted several years ago. I'm surprised it took this long for someone to move on it.
  • DGurney
    This is just one potential next step in the ** of Apple's products.

    I'm sure Jony Ive has more immediate ways to further degrade Apple's now-pathetic hardware.
  • someone-crazy
    Patent waiting for the tech to be invented so apple can sue them.