Apple Secures Patent for Sleek, Ultra-Thin Keyboard Design

Apple’s iOS devices boast touchscreen keyboards that cleverly disappear when not in use, saving precious space. Despite the advancements in Multi-Touch technology across iOS devices and Mac touchpads, Apple’s physical keyboards still rely on older, more traditional mechanisms. However, it seems Apple is now setting its sights on revolutionizing even these components.

A patent uncovered by AppleInsider, filed back in August 2010, reveals that Apple is brewing up ideas to shrink its physical keyboards further than before.

The current design uses a scissor mechanism over a rubber dome switch to send signals to the computer when keys are pressed. Apple is exploring ways to streamline this process.

At the core of all keyboard technology is a spring-loaded pressure switch that completes an electrical circuit to register a keypress. Traditional keyboards used actual springs, making them bulky and noisy.

Some manufacturers tried membrane keyboards, which often required more force to type and provided less tactile feedback, similar to the drawbacks of touchscreen keyboards.

Apple’s innovative keyboard concept involves replacing the scissor mechanism with a lever system reminiscent of old telegraph machines. This design features a key attached to a flexible lever, which completes a circuit when pressed, mimicking the operation of a telegraph.

Design for an electric Morse key, patented in 1837

Apple’s new design could significantly reduce the travel distance required for each keypress. Traditional keyboards need between 4 and 5 millimeters of key travel, while modern notebook keyboards have reduced this to about 1.5 to 2 millimeters.

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Joshua is a dedicated writer for TUAW, bringing readers the latest news and insights on all things Apple. With a keen eye for detail, Joshua covers everything from the newest iPhone releases to the latest updates in macOS. His articles are a go-to source for Apple enthusiasts who want to stay informed about their favorite products, including the iPad, Apple Watch, and MacBook. Joshua’s straightforward and engaging writing style makes complex tech topics easy to understand for everyone.