A patent recently filed by Apple shows a device that looks like a laptop without a keyboard.
The patent was filed as ‘Device Having integrated Interface System.’ This is a continuation patent, so its based on an earlier approved or pending patent application. Apple detailed a laptop that makes use of a touch-based surface where the keyboard would usually go.
With this next-gen MacBook having a glass input surface also means that the MacBook could take on completely new interfaces beyond a keyboard and trackpad… It could theoretically present users with a game controlling interface when playing a video game. It could provide DJ’s with a touch-based turntable and audio controls. It may offer video editors with an interface that could take advantage of touch instead of a keyboard. It could be a clean canvas to allow artists to use their Apple Pencil.Jack Purcher
The patent shows how a thin physical keyboard can be set on top of the capacitive touch surface. This ‘thinboard’ will then translate physically typing movements to the touchscreen.
This all seems great. Apple is excellent when it comes to user interfaces. Sure, if anyone else did this, it would be 3 years ago and awful. Apple, however, has a habit of waiting for a technology to become mature enough for them to put their name on it. Once that happens, they innovate like crazy and make a great, overpriced product. What I am more excited about, are Android and Windows devices that use this setup.
In addition to the touch-based key entry, the patent also shows that this laptop will have wireless charging coils built into the palm rest. For some reason, people are starting to refer to this as ‘reverse wireless charging,’ but I don’t think that name is appropriate. Horizontal wireless charging, maybe? I’m not sure. I have not put much time into thinking about it, but we have to come up with something better than ‘reverse wireless charging.’
Of course, this is just a patent application. This technology may never see the light of day, but honestly, that’s unlikely. This is the direction that computing has been moving in for quite some time. Others have done similar things before, and when you see Apple file a patent, they usually act on it. It will, however, probably take a while for this thing to show up on the market.