« Back

MacBooks could ditch butterfly switches in favor of an optical keyboard

08/29/2019 10:45:20 | Views: 162

Article of www.techradar.com: Let there be light! And let MacBook keyboards be robust and reliable, while we’re at it… Apple’s MacBooks have suffered somewhat at the hands of their keyboards – with a number of complaints about the by now infamous butterfly switch – but it seems the company might have plans to move away from a mechanical switch entirely, given the existence of a patent exploring the use of optical switches.

MacBooks could ditch butterfly switches in favor of an optical keyboard

The patent, which was highlighted by Apple Insider, documents several optical keyboard concepts revolving around the use of a light sensor which detects when a key has been depressed.

The underside of the key could utilize some kind of ‘opaque structure’ which blocks light when it’s pressed down, and that’s the manner in which a key press is registered.

The key itself might include a light source to work in conjunction with the sensor and the light-blocking structure, and if so, that integrated light source could double as a backlight, giving it a second purpose which would be quite nifty.

Tackling tactile

One area that needs to be tackled is ensuring that the typing experience still feels satisfying using an optical rather than traditional mechanical switch. And to that end, Apple may use a ‘leg portion’ with the keycap which is designed to buckle when the key is pressed, “so that different tactile feedback responses are generated” depending on whether the key is fully or partially pressed.

That leg portion may be designed to buckle “two, three, or more than three times at one or more buckling locations to provide multiple tactile feedback events during compression of a key”, according to one implementation discussed in the patent.

So Apple is obviously keen to keep the feel of a mechanical keyboard when changing over to a non-physical switch.

As always, though, just because Apple has patented this particular optical technology doesn’t mean it will ever be seen in a future MacBook keyboard.

That said, it’s clear enough that Apple is keen to work to make its laptop keyboards better, and of late, a further refinement of the butterfly keyboard has been pushed out more widely.

However, the rumor mill reckons that the allegedly incoming MacBook Pro 16-inch will drop the butterfly keyboard entirely, although the replacement won’t be anything fancy, with speculation contending that Apple will employ a scissor switch instead.

But beyond scissor or butterfly switches, or indeed optical sensors, Apple has some other more radical concepts that have been aired by previous patents, including turning the MacBook into a dual-display device with a virtual OLED keyboard.

Read the original article

« Previous entryNext entry »


Popular posts
Razer made a Pikachu keyboard and mouse, and they're downright adorable
Look at your keyboard and mouse. Notice something? If you're like me, there's a distinct lack of Pokémon pizzaz — and that's just tragic. For the l...

Submitted 89 days ago | Views: 340

How This Weird Little Keyboard Is Making Me Better at Typing
Every day at work, I sit down at my desk and type hundreds, sometimes thousands, of words. I do it for a living. But that hasn’t saved me from being a lou...

Submitted 59 days ago | Views: 243

Logitech latest keyboard gets auto backlighting, Type C
You might not quite be used to the whole Type C USB thing, and it might bug you a little that the new Mac or PC in your life relies on a totally different USB p...

Submitted 64 days ago | Views: 222

MacBook Pro teardown confirms the new keyboard is basically just the old, good keyboard
One of the main promises Apple is making with its new 16-inch MacBook Pro is that the keyboard — after years of easily broken butterfly-switch mechanisms ...

Submitted 64 days ago | Views: 208

You can buy a ThinkPad keyboard - without the ThinkPad
Many current day users have grown up accustomed to using trackpads whenever a mouse isn’t nearby, or convenient to use. However, an iconic feature of Leno...

Submitted 15 days ago | Views: 118