Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a granted patent for Apple that reveals their ongoing work and refinement of the reconfigurable MacBook that basically eliminates the physical keyboard and rigidly set trackpad. The user would be free to configure the interface of their MacBook to work for them, be it adding a numeric pad or a giant gamepad and place them anywhere on the MacBook surface grid as noted in our cover graphic. This possible future MacBook has the power to reinvent the notebook as Apple did by killing the traditional mobile phone with their multitouch iPhone.
The electronic device may utilize a single input structure for forming a number of distinct input devices, or, conversely, may include a number of input structures for forming distinct input devices.
As a result, the input devices can be moved to a specific location of the casing based on user preference. Similarly, one or more of such input devices may be resized or reshaped by user input, operation of an associated electronic device, software, firmware, other hardware, and so on.
Apple's patent FIG. 1A noted below shows a reconfigurable MacBook with configurable, force-sensitive input structures; In FIG. 11 we see a standard MacBook configuration with a non-standard numeric keypad added by a user in a position they so choose; FIG. 15B shows a top view of an electronic device including a configurable, force-sensitive input structure in a second operational mode including a track pad and the mode key.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent 10,963,117.
Apple has been working on this concept since 2011. More recent patents on this theme were covered in the reports presented below:
01: Apple Talks Up Smart Bezels + Live & Reconfigurable MacBooks
02: Apple has won a MacBook Patent that introduces new Finger Sensing Keys, a built-in iPhone Charger and more