Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to the design of a future MacBook that will include a retractable keyboard when the cover is closed in an effort to make MacBooks even thinner.
Apple notes that aspects of the present invention relate to a future MacBook and its keyboard and key assemblies that can change the positioning of some of their parts relative to the MacBook's housing so as to reduce its thickness.
One aspect of the invention relates to a keyboard comprising a base layer, a keycap, a stabilizer coupled to the keycap and coupled to the base layer, with the stabilizer being movable between a raised configuration and a lowered configuration, wherein the keycap is spaced farther away from the base layer when in the raised configuration relative to the lowered configuration, and a magnetic structure movable between a first position relative to the base layer and a second position relative to the base layer.
The magnetic structure can draw the stabilizer from the raised configuration to the lowered configuration upon movement of the magnetic structure from the first position to the second position.
The stabilizer can comprise a pivotable mechanism having a pivot point. The first position of the magnetic structure can be located on a first side of the pivot point, and the second position of the magnetic structure can be located on a second side of the pivot point, with the second side being opposite the pivot point relative to the first side. In the second position, the magnetic structure can draw a portion of the stabilizer toward the base layer, with the portion of the stabilizer being positioned opposite the pivot point relative to the base layer when the stabilizer is in the raised configuration.
The patent figures below illustrate the keyboard of a MacBook in a normal position when opened and ready for typing and then the MacBook in a closed position with the keyboard in a retracted position.
Apple's patent application that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was filed back in Q3 2019. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.