Feeds

Apple files patent for 'polished meteorite' keyboard

Thin, light, 'aesthetically pleasing'

The essential guide to IT transformation

Apple has filed a patent application for a key-travel design that it claims will allow for a "thin profile, aesthetically pleasing keyboard."

Keyboard aesthetics, the filing claims, is of great importance because "outward appearance contributes to the overall impression that the user has of the computing device." Quite Cupertinian, eh?

One aspect of the filing's contribution to aesthetic pleasingness is that it allows not only for keyboards that are quite thin, but also allows for the keys themselves to more easily be made of a multitude of materials, the filing states, "including, but not limited to, wood, stone, polished meteorite, ceramic, metal, and glass."

And, yes, you did read that correctly: polished meteorite. As the filing notes, slices of other planets have found their way onto watch dials, so why not have wee chunks of Mars on your laptop?

The core design element described in the filing is revealed in its title: "Single Support Lever Keyboard Mechanism". Instead of more-traditional key actuators such as scissor-switches, springs, or metal or polyester domes, keys are positioned on the ends of a relatively long lever that pivots when the key is pressed.

Apple keyboard-design patent illustration

Since keyboard rows are offset, the levers won't get in each others' way

At the bottom of the key's short travel, an "elastomeric spacer" underneath the key but also on the lever would com in contact with a metal dome. The dome would compress, completing the circuit and triggering the keystroke.

The composition of the elastomeric spacer could be varied to produce either a soft or hard feel to the key contact. Also, the filing notes, a spacer made of, say, silcone rubber coud reduce rattling, quieting the keyboard but still providing a satisfying bit of tactile feedback in conjunction with the deformation and snap-back of the metal dome.

Apple keyboard-design patent illustration

Scissor-switch keys provide fine feedback, but are so 20th-century chubby

The filing describes a few different versions of the key construction – "embodiments", in patentese – some with key travel as short as 0.2mm, some with keys travel as long as 1.85mm.

Of course, since the keys would pivot due to the lever method, some key-tilting would occur. "Such a forward rotation during key travel can be ergonomically desirable," says the filing. With low-travel keystrokes, however, "such rotation can be almost imperceptible."

As the filing notes, "The advantages of the invention are numerous," citing low-travel keys suitable for ultra-thin notebooks – or, for that matter, Ultrabooks™ – but which still provide good tactile feedback.

And then there's the cachet of browsing NASA's website while stroking slivers of space. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
EE fails to apologise for HUGE T-Mobile outage that hit Brits on Friday
Customer: 'Please change your name to occasionally somewhere'
Time Warner Cable customers SQUEAL as US network goes offline
A rude awakening: North Americans greeted with outage drama
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
BT customers face broadband and landline price hikes
Poor punters won't be affected, telecoms giant claims
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.