Apple may be interested in developing a keyboard that could use proximity sensors for tactile feedback using special air vents on the individual keys. This idea has been uncovered by Apple Insider, in a fresh patent filing made public by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
"Input Devices and Methods of Operation" is the filing’s full title and it talks about the disadvantage of ever smaller and slimmer keyboards, and how it takes away from a compelling typing experience. Having a smaller keyboard means that you sense a tactile limitation in the typing process, caused by keys not “travelling” as far when they are pressed.
The ingenious fellows at Apple have come up with a solution involving having proximity sensors in each key. The sensor will be able to tell when a key input is on the way then, Apple envisions, the system would "flow air from the input device," probably through orifices in the surface of the key, which could turn out to be quite pleasant for the user. Why not go even further and make the air hot or cold, depending on the room’s temperature?
Apple could learn something from Asus, who developed laptops in their K50 line which have inbuilt technology that makes the keyboard’s temperature 25 per cent cooler than body temperature.
The patent describes two possible solutions for a great typing experience: one involves air pressure being used to give tactile feedback and the other is a pneumatic system that could be used to "advance the selected key in a direction of actuation in response to detecting user selection."
Even though this patent was made public just this week, it was first filed 2 years ago, in November 2009, the credit going to Aleksandar Pance, Michael Sinclair and Brett Bilbrey.