Apple Files for a Glass MacBook patent with a full Side-to-Side Trackpad that uses a Force Input/Haptic Output Interface
Last Thursday the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to a possible future MacBook constructed of glass and having a side-to-side trackpad.
MacBook Enclosure with Locally-Flexible Regions
Apple's invention covers a future MacBook with a force input/haptic output interface in the trackpad area that has no borders. The user interface surface can be a protective outer cover (e.g., transparent glass, sapphire, plastic) positioned over an active display area of the display.
The trackpad area can be formed from an opaque or transparent material such as metal, glass, organic materials, synthetic materials, woven materials, and so on.
Apple's patent claim #17 states: "The laptop computer of claim 15, wherein the lower enclosure comprises a glass top surface, wherein the trackpad area is defined in the glass top surface" clarifies one focus of this patent.
Apple's patent FIG. 2A below depicts an example distribution of locally-flexible regions defined into an interior surface of an electronic device, such as a future MacBook that may be associated with a force input/haptic output interface.
As noted in patent FIG. 3 above, we're able to see that with a glass design, the new force input/haptic output actuators could be spread out over the width of a future MacBook that would reduce the thickness of the MacBook while eliminating the traditional cutout region for a dedicated trackpad. The locally-flexible regions can be formed into an interior surface of the enclosure #302 below the lower region of the external surface #304.
At CES 2023, LG illustrated a notebook with a glass construction as noted below. The trackpad is invisible until needed and then lights beneath the glass shine showing the perimeter of the trackpad when touched as illustrated below. When not in use, the design provides a next-gen clean design without showing a dedicated physical trackpad.
While Apple's patent doesn't specifically mention using lighting beneath the glass for FIG. 2A, once a trend has begun, it's very possible that Apple could employ a similar feature.
Though technically speaking, Apple has already worked on another similar patent that is able to illuminate icons on a future glass notebook that you could review here. That patent will use a dynamic virtual trackpad.
For more details, review Apple's patent application number US 20230018184 A1.
A Few of Apple's Inventors
- Paul Wang: Senior Manager, Product Design
- Alex Lehmann: Product Design Engineer - Finite Element Analyst
- Robert Cao: Product Design, Mac and iPad
- Dinesh M.: director of product design