Apple has Won a Major MacBook Patent Describing possible future features including a Virtual Keyboard, iPhone Recharging & more
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to a dual-display based MacBook with an advanced interface system allowing the traditional keyboard area to be replaced with a morphing virtual interface for various keyboard configurations or to switch the virtual interface to support gaming and various virtual buttons and glyphs that aren't associated with traditional mechanical keyboards and many other features.
In today's patent application, we see an overview of the morphing virtual interfaces on a notebook-like device as presented in patent FIGS. 16A to 16C below.
More specifically, Apple's patent FIG. 16A above illustrates the virtual keyboard #1605 in a traditional layout. However, because the images of the keys of the virtual keyboard are produced by a display below the top case, different keyboard layouts could be supported like in FIG. 16B using an ergonomic keyboard layout. As another example, we're able to see in patent FIG. 16C above that dual-display based notebook could use the virtual keyboard area and use another available user interface that could double as a game controller.
Other keyboard configurations are also possible, such as swapping the position of the virtual keyboard and trackpad so that the keyboard is closer to the front edge and the trackpad at the top.
With a virtual keyboard new functions or feature could be introduced. Apple explains patent FIG. 48 below by noting that key 4844e (shown as a space bar) may be capable of receiving traditional key inputs as well as gesture inputs.
When the user applies a touch gesture to the spacebar, as in sliding a finger or thumb along path #4846e, it may result in a user accepting a suggested spelling 4842e of a misspelled word 4840e in a word processing application or other text input field.
Apple's patent FIG. 49A above depicts an example computing device #4900a (Notebook) that interfaces with external objects through a top case. The notebook may include various components within the base portion #4903a that are configured to interact with external objects through the top case of the base portion. For example, the Notebook includes biometric sensors #4912a, fingerprint sensor #4910a, and wireless charger #4914a.
As noted, the biometric sensors #4912a may also use any suitable sensing techniques, such as optical sensors (e.g., photoplethysmographs, cameras, etc.), capacitive sensors, or the like. The biometric sensors may also include facial-recognition sensors, which may include cameras, lenses, projectors (e.g., microdot projectors), infrared sensors, and the like, which may also communicate through the top case to provide facial recognition functionality. Of course, Apple is describing Face ID technology.
Apple's patent FIG. 49B above, the notebook #4900b illustrates a joystick that may be used, for example, to manipulate displays of three-dimensional objects, provide input for gaming applications, navigate user interfaces, or the like.
In Apple's patent FIG. 48F above we're able to see the display #4805f showing a three-dimensional model of an object, and the affordances may be used to manipulate the view of the object. For example, a user selection of a button in the button array #4834f, as shown in FIG. 48F, may cause the computing device 4800f to interpret an input to the rotatable dial 4836f in one of various possible ways.
More particularly, the buttons of the button array 4834f may determine whether inputs to the rotatable dial 4836f cause the three-dimensional model to rotate horizontally, rotate vertically, be zoomed in or out, or the like.
In Apple's patent figure 48A below, the virtual keyboard could also accept traditional iOS gestures such as pinch and zoom and more.
Apple's patent FIG. 31A above illustrates a scenario where a user is typing while the user's hands are resting on the trackpad region #3102. In this case, palm-rejection techniques are used to ignore the force of the user's hands on the trackpad region while detecting force inputs applied to the keyboard.
For more details, review our original patent application report here or review Apple's granted patent 11,099,649.