A waterproof Mac Magic Keyboard combined with a Magic Trackpad AND offering Apple Pencil support? I’m in. And that’s exactly what a new patent application (number 20210098212) for a “membrane-sealed keyboard” involves.
Hopefully, we’ll see such a device sooner rather than later. I assume (hope?) that such a keyboard/trackpad combo will be wireless and backlit. I’d also love to see a Touch Bar included, but I’m probably in the minority on that.
The patent filing seems to be as much about offering an input device that’s flexible and resistant to damage as providing new features. For example, Apple wants future keyboards/trackpads to be more resistant to contaminants, such as dust or liquid, entering though openings or connections.
And what of Apple Pencil support? The patent filing refers to “a user instrument such as a finger or stylus can be moved across the top surfaces of the flexible layer and/or keycaps, and can be used to control the electronic device in a manner separate from the actuation of switch structures that are actuated by pressing down a keycap to mechanically, capacitively, or electrically actuate a switch.”
Here’s the summary of the patent data: “Keyboards and other input devices are provided with at least one flexible layer that extends over or under the keycaps. The flexible layer spans interkey spaces and lies between inner and outer keycaps. The flexible layer prevents intrusion of invasive material to the keyboard mechanisms and simplifies the appearance of the keyboard area.
“Some flexible layers help align keycaps by connecting inner and outer keycaps or by providing a mechanical connection interface for the keycaps. Some membranes used in the flexible layer have a layered or composite construction that increases durability and tear resistance by attaching or infusing a mesh material or other tough material to a less durable, elastic material.”