Apple patent filing hints at Macs, other devices with input areas that replace buttons

FIG. 10C depicts a laptop with multiple illuminated input regions.

Apple has filed for a patent (number 20220155890) for “concealable input region for an electronic device.” It hints at Macs, iPads, and perhaps other devices that could replace some physical controls such as buttons with  input areas that display info.

About the patent filing

In the patent filing, Apple notes that, in computing systems, an input device may be employed to receive input from a user. Some traditional input devices include large buttons, keys, or other mechanically-actuated structures. 

However, Apple says that “these types of input devices may lack flexibility or adaptability and may permanently indicate the presence of the input device within the computing system.” The idea is to replace some of these with an input surface with microperfortions  that can  illuminate to show virtual keys, buttons, or notification graphics.

Summary of the patent filing

Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent filing with technical details: “Embodiments are directed to an electronic device having a hidden or concealable input region. In one aspect, an embodiment includes an enclosure having a wall that defines an input region having an array of microperforations. A light source may be positioned within a volume defined by the enclosure and configured to propagate light through the array of microperforations. 

“A sensing element may be coupled with the wall and configured to detect input received within the input region. The array of microperforations are configured to be visually imperceptible when not illuminated by the light source. When illuminated by the light source, the array of microperforations may display a symbol.”

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.