Apple reveals possible Next-Gen Smart Keyboard design with slidable keyboard that adjusts to a user's comfort
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to a possible Smart Keyboard advancement that allows the keyboard to slide out from the base to provide users with a way to comfortably position the keyboard for work.
More specifically, the Smart Keyboard is rotatable relative to the input device between a first position and a second position, and a center of gravity of the electronic device moves parallel to a direction of translation of the input device upon rotation of the electronic device relative to the input device.
The position of the input device relative to the hinge can be continuously adjustable within a range of relative positions, the electronic device being stable across an entirety of the range of relative positions. The range of relative positions can include a first position wherein the electronic device is at an about 120-degree angle relative to the input device and a second position wherein the electronic device is at an about 135-degree angle relative to the input device. The input device can be movable between a locked position relative to the bottom portion and an unlocked position relative to the bottom portion as a result of mounting the electronic device to the input device.
In some cases, the sliding input device can be moved between a locked position and an unlocked position relative to the case. In this way, the input device can be prevented from moving (e.g., falling off of or sliding out of the bounds of the length and width dimensions of the closed-configuration case) while it is not being used. Attachment of the electronic device to the input device can cause the input device to unlock relative to the case and to thereby be able to slide and translate.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below illustrates an iPad using a possible next-gen Smart Keyboard with the bottom portion being slidable as shown by the arrow at the bottom of the keyboard.
Apple's patent FIG 12 above shows a side view of another computing system having a removable input device. In this example, the input device #1218 can be releasably mountable to the bottom portion #1214 by connectors such as magnetic elements in the devices #1214, #1218 or mechanically interlockable parts. The bottom end #1228 of the electronic device #1202 can be configured to contact the inner surface #1230 of the bottom portion when the input device is removed. Removal of the input device #1218 can allow the user to reposition the input device to any preferred position relative to the electronic device #1202
Apple's patent FIG. 11 below shows a perspective view of other elements of the computing system #1100. In this view, the electronic device #1102 is mounted to the input device #1118 and the case #1106. A pin-and-slot configuration can guide the movement of the input device relative to the bottom portion #1114 of the case #1106. The pins #1120 can be part of the input device, and the slots #1122 can be part of the bottom portion #1114, or vice versa. The pins can be substantially stationary relative to the input device, and the slots #1122 can be stationary relative to the bottom portion. In this way, movement of the input device #1118 relative to the bottom portion can cause the pins to traverse the slots #1122 within the limits of the ends of the slots.
Apple's patent FIG. 11A above shows a diagrammatic top view of a pin (#1120) in a slot (#1122). The pin can be movable along the slot to extreme end positions #1124, #1126 wherein the pin contacts the ends of the slot and therefore limits movement of the input device #1118 relative to the bottom portion #1114 of the case.
Dual Display Tablet or MacBook Design
Apple's patent FIG. 13 above shows a perspective view of an additional embodiment of the computing system (#1300). The input device (#1318) is shown with a generic interface area (#1320) to illustrate that the input device can comprise a variety of user interface elements such as a keyboard, display, track pad (e.g., a track pad covering substantially all of the interface area (#1320), etc.
In some embodiments, the input device can further comprise an auxiliary input device (#1322) that is translatable between a stowed position within a recess (#1324) of the input device (#1318 - or within a recess of the bottom portion #1314) and an active or usable position extending from the recess 1324 (as shown in FIG. 13).
The auxiliary input device can comprise a track pad or other interface device. The auxiliary input device can extend from a front or lateral side surface of the input device.
For finer details, review Apple's patent application number 20210096597.
Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.