One of Apple's longest running projects involves a notebook that replaces the traditional keyboard with a virtual one. The display replacing the keyboard could also transition to a gaming pad when playing games, act as a dual turntables for DJs, a mini keyboard for creating a tune with GarageBand. The project goes back to a filing in 2010 that was covered in a patent report in early 2011. Other patents surfaced in 2012, in 2016 and the last surfacing in February 2017.
The reconfigurable notebook as noted in one variant shows a few advantages such a virtual screen could bring to the table. It could custom size a a keyboard, provide superior lit keys for working at night or adding a numeric keypad for the odd time you need it. You could even add a large iPod-Like scroll wheel to rip through lists and so forth.
Over the years we've pointed to Samsung and Microsoft's team copying Apple's soft cover keyboard for a tablet and a hybrid notebook with a detachable keyboard that magically became the Surface Book.
So why not add Google to the list. They want in on the hardware side of things. That was evident during their October event. Last week a Google patent application came to light and it's clear that they like Apple's hybrid notebook with a Virtual display for a keyboard and beyond.
Google's patent FIG. 2 noted above illustrates scenario #200 that may occur when the two display housings are physically coupled together. In this example, the scenario involves a user entering a search query into a particular application such as a web browser. In this scenario, the user may open or otherwise access the apparatus, which provides a graphical user interface (GUI) 202 on display device 104a, which is the display screen arranged facing the user. The display device 104b presents a user input 204 including a virtual keyboard and mousepad as shown. As noted above, the user input may be a haptic-type touch screen element to enable the user to type and otherwise input information via the display device 104b, and to provide tactile feedback when the screen is pressed.
Android Authority thinks that "Google isn't one to shy away from a bold idea." And yet it's a bold idea that's been kicking around since 2012. Patently Mobile, (then Patent Bolt) covered Google's first patent application regarding this idea. So it's anything but new, even for Google.
Lenovo has been first to deliver on the basics of this idea. Yet beyond a virtual keyboard, Lenovo is somewhat at a loss as to how to take advantage of this new concept. That's where most copycats fail.
Lenovo's ad below for this device shows someone drawing on the second display but it's an odd application being that virtual area stays dark.
For this concept to work, Google or Apple will have to deliver the right set of apps to justify introducing such an odd beast that may or may not fly with the finicky consumer. They also have to deliver next-gen haptics to make it really feel like a natural keyboard. Which of the two will be first to market with such a winning product? Only time will tell.
About Making Comments on our Site: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit any comments. Those using abusive language or negative behavior will result in being blacklisted on Disqus.