Apple patent filing involves Mac laptops with ‘virtual’ keyboards and trackpads

FIG. 1A shows a Mac laptop with a haptic keyboard and trackpad.

Apple has filed for a patent (number US 20230333658 A1) for a “Device Having an Integrated Interface System.” It’s one of several patent filings (and granted patents) that hint at Mac laptops with “virtual” keyboards and virtual trackpads.

About the patent filing

In the patent filing Apple notes that many electronic devices include one or more input devices such as keyboards, trackpads, mice, or touchscreens to enable a user to interact with the device. In some traditional electronic devices, the inclusion of one or more of the input devices may require the formation of a hole, opening, or seam through which liquid or other foreign matter may enter the device enclosure. Additionally, the enclosure of some traditional electronic devices may be formed from materials that are easily scratched or that provide an inferior tactile feel or visual appearance.

Apple’s patent involves laptops having an enclosure formed at least partially from a transparent, dielectric material such as plastic, glass, or a ceramic material. The transparent dielectric material may form a continuous or seamless input surface that may improve the look and feel of the device without having the drawbacks of some traditional device constructions. In other words, it would provide “virtual” keyboards and trackpads that interact via touch and haptic feedback.

Summary of the patent filing

Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent filing: “A portable computer includes a display portion comprising a display and a base portion pivotally coupled to the display portion. The base portion may include a bottom case and a top case, formed from a dielectric material, coupled to the bottom case. The top case may include a top member defining a top surface of the base portion and a sidewall integrally formed with the top member and defining a side surface of the base portion.

“The portable computer may also include a sensing system including a first sensing system configured to determine a location of a touch input applied to the top surface of the base portion and a second sensing system configured to determine a force of the touch input.”

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.