Future of Mac & iOS Keyboards? Apple Patent Shows Virtual Keyboard with Air Feedback System
Apple has patented a very unique keyboard design that uses micro-perforations to shoot air at the users fingers upon touch, providing tactile feedback to whoever is typing. What makes this patent even more interesting is that not only could it apply to standard keyboards, but also virtual keyboards on iOS devices, as PatentlyApple elaborates:
flowing of air could also be implemented in a virtual keyboard, wherein each key location is merely a defined region on a solid surface, where contact with that surface region will generate a defined input signal.
Such virtual keyboards may have no moveable surfaces. In such configurations, notwithstanding the absence of a moveable surface, the flowing of air through apertures in the surface may be used to provide a tactile resistance to a user’s actuation motion and/or to absorb at least a portion of the actuation force.
In other words, typing on future Apple touch screens may actually provide a sensation of typing on a real keyboard, thanks to little puffs of air hitting your fingers as you touch the display. Other interesting aspects of the patent indicate that the tiny perforations could also be used to illuminate the keyboard with LED backlighting, and that the entire system could also apply to deformable, flexible keyboards and surfaces (future mouses?).
How amazing is this, even as a concept? One of the biggest gripes about virtual keyboards are the lack of tactile feedback, making it much harder to touch-type at any speed with much accuracy. This patent looks to be trying to solve that problem.
As always with Apple patents, don’t get your hopes up, this could be a long ways out if it ever makes an appearance at all.