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When it comes to patents, Apple has acquired a multitude. From flexible phones (no, not #bendgate) to 3D displays to high-end DSLR cameras in iPhones, Apple constantly pursues creative and seemingly unreal ideas in the world of technology. In fact, just today Apple was granted 44 patents across a variety of technologies, including a car locating service and design patents for the iPhone 5C chassis, the iPhone 5C case and the Beats Pill Speaker. But the recent Apple patent that is causing a stir among techies relates to Apple’s “fusion keyboard.”
The “fusion keyboard” plans on carefully integrating Apple’s Force Touch technology into a keyboard. In this way, a device would be able to tell the difference between a long press and a short press, thus increasing the capabilities of the keyboard tenfold. Similar to a Mac trackpad, each keyboard key would be able to determine swipes and zooms, and would provide the user with the advantage of never having to take their hands off of the keys to operate a mouse. Everything could be controlled from the touch-sensitive keyboard. This would increase productivity and functionality exponentially.
There is also the potential that the keyboard comes with its own processor. As the patent describes: “The processor could generate either a touch event command or a key depression command in response to the detected touch events and detected key depressions. The touch sensitive mechanical keyboard can advantageously allow users to enter textual input using a device having the same look and feel of a conventional keyboard while allowing the users to enter touch events without requiring the users to remove their hands from the keyboard.”
Source: Patently Apple
Sources speculate that the traditional keyboard feel won’t be lost with this new-found idea. You would still be able to press the keys, with gaps between the individual keys. This means that each key would be outfitted with touch sensors to determine the user’s intended action and make for a more responsive experience. However, drawings also show that the keyboard also has two sensors on top and one on the left as well.
But don’t expect this technology to be debuted on Apple’s new MacBooks, but there’s hope that we will see them assimilated with the release of a new MacBook Pro or other iMac models. Then again, this could just be another patent Apple acquired to add to their already long list of currently unused patents.