Future Mac laptops may sport a virtual, resizable, illuminated trackpad as evidenced by a newly filed Apple patent (number 2020033853) for an “illuminated device enclosure with dynamic trackpad.” This is the company’s second such patent for such an invention, the other being number 10,732676, which was filed in August.
Traditional input devices include large buttons, keys, or other mechanically-actuated structures. However, Apple says 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 tech giant’s idea is for a laptop having an illuminated enclosure that defines a dynamic input surface.
In the patent data, the tech giant says that some traditional input devices include large buttons, keys, or other mechanically-actuated structures “may lack flexibility or adaptability and may permanently indicate the presence of the input device within the computing system.” Apple’s idea? A virtual trackpad that can be moved, resized, and rearranged with functions that can be assigned and reassigned. It wold also be illuminated.
Here’s the summary of the patent filing: “Embodiments are directed to an electronic device having an illuminated body that defines a virtual or dynamic trackpad. The electronic device includes a translucent layer defining a keyboard region and a dynamic input region along an external surface. A keyboard may be. positioned within the keyboard region and including a key surface and a switch element (e.g., to detect a keypress). A light control layer positioned below the translucent layer and within the dynamic input region may have a group of illuminable features.
“The electronic device may also include a group of light-emitting elements positioned below the optical diffuser. One or more of the light control layer or the group of light-emitting elements may be configured to illuminate the dynamic input region to display a visible boundary of an active input area. At least one of a size or a position of the visible boundary may be dynamically variable.”
(Dennis Sellers has been covering the Apple industry since 1996. In addition to“Apple World Today,” he also runs his own freelance writing/editing service. If you want more info about the latter, email him at email@example.com.)