Based on a recently registered Apple patent, it looks like future keyboards from this company will completely replace the physical way of recognizing keystrokes with Force Touch technology, exactly the same as in the recent Magic Trackpad 2. Keys in such a keyboard will be able to perform different functions depending on the pressure on them.
Patent 9,178,509, entitled Ultra low travel keyboard, was granted to the company by the US Patent and Trademark Office this week. The document describes a keyboard without switches, instead of which pressure sensors are installed, similar to the sensors in the display Apple Watch and the trackpad of the latter Apple MacBook.
The keyboard won't look like one big Force Touchpad, instead, multiple sensors will be installed under each key, tied to that key. The keys will be equipped with piezo actuators and pressure sensors to read pressure and tactile feedback when pressed.
“To determine the force of pressure on a single key, the signals from these sensors are received by the keyboard controller and transmitted to the keyboard module for further processing,” explains Apple Insider. “The press is processed and the user receives a tactile response in the form of a 'click' or mechanical movement simulated by an integrated actuator.”
The technology will not only allow Apple to make its keyboards even thinner, but will also be able to endow the keys with multifunctionality. For example, with a regular press, you can type a letter, and with a deeper press, you can do some other action, for example, pause music, copy text, or write a special character.
Naturally, it is not a fact that this patent will be implemented, but the implementation of Force Touch support in keyboards would be a very logical step for Apple, because the company is experimenting a lot with Force Touch (or 3D Touch) since the first appearance of this technology in Apple Watch this spring.
Considering that the latest keyboard Apple, the Magic Keyboard, came out quite recently, last month, most likely, we will not see the Force Touch keyboard anytime soon.
Source: Apple Insider