Patently Apple posted a report way back in 2011 titled "Apple Talks Up Smart Bezels + Live & Reconfigurable MacBooks." In 2017 we posted a continuation patent for this invention pointing out some of the new additions to the original invention. The invention covers an illuminated MacBook input surface, a set up assistant, a live reconfigurable surface supporting a virtual keyboard and more.
It's this kind of MacBook concept that will likely take Apple's new Silicon to be able to finally fulfill. Years after the original patent, the design could be seen in two ways. It could still be a dual display MacBook or with a little imagination, be a dual display iPad Pro which we'll explain a little further below.
Apple's patent FIG. 6 below provides us with a general overview of the proposed system that will rely on light sensors and haptics to form a virtual keyboard or other configuration that could technically support gaming, music playback and more; FIG. 10B illustrates a portable computing device having a virtual keyboard.
Apple's granted patent 10,739,868 was published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office under the title "Housing as an I/O Device."
Technically speaking, Microsoft will be introducing their version of such a device known as the Surface Neo in late 2021. It was delayed due to COVID-19. It's smaller version, the Surface Duo smartphone is still on schedule for this year according to a rumor that we covered yesterday.
Now with the Surface Neo which is a dual display tablet, it's a twist to Apple's dual display MacBook.
Once again, it's maddening to see another Apple patent idea get hijacked by a competitor, especially Microsoft. In 2013 we posted a report titled " Finally! Apple Reveals their Hybrid Notebook Tablet Details." Microsoft grabbed the idea and years later introduced their Surface Book. Surface Neo is now going to execute on another Apple concept.
It would be great to see Apple deliver on this invention to challenge Microsoft's future Surface Neo. Yet with all patents, it's unpredictable when or even if Apple will ever pull the trigger.