Apple Wants to Make Anti-Crumb Tech Reality for Mac Keyboards

Apple Rumored to Be Developing 3 New Macs, 1 New iPad for 2018 Credit: Louis Berger
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Apple is apparently working on a keyboard that could do away with the scourge of crumbs, according to a recently disclosed patent application.

As any MacBook owner knows, eating crumb-laden food around their computers can be perilous. Those crumbs can pretty easily get lodged on or near the computer’s keys. And it’s not just an aesthetic problem, those crumbs can actually cause electrical issues and can even stop keys from working.

But Apple’s patent, which was applied for in September 2016 and made public by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office today, imagines several ways to mitigate the threat of crumbs and other contaminants.

For one, Apple details a method for simply sealing off or blocking the gaps between or under keys by using gaskets, wipers, brushes or flaps. This, obviously, could keep crumbs or even liquids away from the sensitive internal components of a key.

In another iteration, the patent describes installing a membrane under each key that could act as a “bellow.” Basically, it would force air out each time a key is pressed, which could dislodge dirt or crumbs stuck underneath the keys. Presumably, it might even work on minor liquid spills, too.

In another method, the patent explains that a keyboard assembly could include “a substrate, a key cap, a guard structure extending from the key cap that funnels contaminants away from the movement mechanism.”

As Apple notes in the patent’s background, the moving keys of a keyboard assembly can get muddled or damaged by solid particles or liquid. The sticky residue from certain liquids, like sugar, can even “corrode or block electrical contacts (and) prevent key movement by bonding moving parts.”

For a device costing upwards of $1,500 to be damaged by a stray crumb is obviously unacceptable by Apple’s standards. That’s undoubtedly part of the reason the company is developing technology to make its keyboards liquid- and crumb-resistant.

Of course, it is just a patent. There’s no guarantee that we’ll see crumb-defeating technology in this year’s MacBook Pro lineup, or any Apple product, for that matter.

But it does suggest that the Cupertino tech giant is actively exploring ways to make its keyboards more durable and effective. We can only hope Apple decides to use one of these methods in a future notebook.

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