Apple have applied for a new patent which improves the tactile feedback of ultra thin keyboards. Going on the details, it appears that the board produces a puff of air when touches, and this can be pneumatically sucked inwards in response to use touch.
The patent has been some time in process. ‘Input devices and methods of operation', and it was filed in November 2009, but published a few days ago. Aleksandar Pance is a fairly well know inventor who already have multiple patents filed for Apple over the last three years, focused generally around input device technology.
This patent may solve a problem many users complain about – the lack of feedback for ultra thin keyboards. Due to the tiny motion of play, it can be hard to reach the same typing speeds, which are easily achievable on a full size board.
Proximity sensors seem to detect an approaching finger and then emit a puff of air ‘through openings in a key surface, or through openings adjacent the key assembly.' There is also a method described which senses the finger approaching then applies air pressure to the space under the key to cause it to offer some resistance.
The patent describes how the system sucks the key downward when it is depressed causing it to be ‘thus pneumatically pulled away from the user' while ‘provide the user with the impression of a longer keystroke than is actually present.'
KitGuru says: The patent makes for fascinating reading, however it may prove difficult to incorporate all this new technology into the current range of Apple keyboards, as they are extremely thin.