Apple Patent Application Details In-key Displays, Keyboard Gestures

Apple may be looking to make your next Mac's keyboard interactive, assuming a just revealed patent application is any indication. A filing released on Thursday describes a keyboard where the keys pack in built-in displays, haptic feedback, and touch sensors.

The keyboard design sounds strikingly similar to the Optimus Maximus from Art Lebedev Studios with its OLED display keys. Each key can dynamically change based on the apps you are running, plus users can program function keys for specific jobs, like launching Web browsers and email clients.

Apple files patent for keyboard with built-in key displaysApple files patent for keyboard with built-in key displays

Apple's patent, however, goes beyond the Optimus design by including gesture-based controls and haptic feedback such as increased resistance and vibrations.

The concept of keys that can dynamically change what they show is pretty cool, and if done right, very useful. Imagine, for example, seeing on-key what different keyboard shortcuts do in complex applications like Adobe Photoshop.

Filing for a patent doesn't guarantee what Apple has in store for future Mac models, but it does offer some interesting insight into where the company may be headed. In this case, it may be farther away from IBM Selectric and closer to Star Trek.

[Thanks to Patently Apple for the heads up]