Apple Patent Granted For Ultra Low Travel Keyboard. Patent number US 9,178,509 B2 was granted on Tuesday for an Ultra Low Travel Keyboard. This latest Apple patent could mean an even thinner Mac laptop than the current models will be in the works sometime in the future. This would be a force touch keyboard with a very low profile. The inventor is listed as Jefferey T. Bernstein of San Francisco, CA.
This low travel keyboard design includes sensors that measure force but without switches. This would accommodate a thinner keyboard. The patient abstract reads, “A keyboard or keyboard key that measures the force imparted to the key when a user presses the key or rests a finger on a key.” It goes on to say that Key embodiments may include an actuator that excites in order to provide feedback to the user….”
AppleInsider summarized the following in an article on this subject. “Apple’s current MacBook and Mac accessory lineups employ modified scissor switches, or butterfly switches on the 12-inch Retina MacBook, nestled within hollow key caps. Today’s patent mirrors the aesthetic of existing designs, but deviates from established technology by replacing mechanical switches for a stack of sensors, actuators and supporting circuitry.
Theoretically the system operates akin to Apple’s Force Touch trackpads, but on a much larger scale; one force sensor package for each keyboard key. Force sensors configured to measure downward pressure are integrated beneath the keyboard’s key caps, while integrated actuators — part of the key stack — generate haptic feedback.
So we’re looking at an ultra thin, Force Touch keyboard, with Haptic feedback. Sign me up, but wait a minute, there is no indication we will be seeing this ultra thin keyboard or Mac anytime soon, but it’s nice to know it’s in the wings.