The folks at Patently Apple have discovered that the US Patent & Trademark Office has granted Apple a patent for a “reconfigurable” Mac keyboard.
According to the patent illustrations, each key on this keyboard will feature a single display that can be programmed to show contextual labels depending on what the user is doing. Think of it as the Touch Bar but supercharged and extended to the entire keyboard.
Now, if this all sounds familiar it’s because a keyboard of this type has already been done over 10 years ago. Remember the Optimus Maximus keyboard by Art Lebedev?
Such a keyboard will have some obvious benefits. For example, users who work in multiple languages will be able to easily swap between them. It can also be beneficial for certain games as keys can be programmed to show shortcuts to abilities and such.
However, it also goes without saying that such a keyboard will add substantial cost to the system. A typical MacBook has 65 (US) or 66 (ISO) keys, so imagine how much more it will cost to put individual displays on each of them.
Of course, just because Apple has been awarded a patent doesn’t mean it will make it to market. It’s worth reminding readers that Apple has been granted numerous patents that have never made it into production.
This article was first published in Hardware Zone.