Apple Patents a New Physical Keyboard without Keys!

By on July 26, 2011

Apple just filed a  patent application that reveals a new piezo-based acoustic and capacitive detection system offering a glass based keyboard concept, as reported by PatentlyApple.

Apple patents-new glass keyboard without keys

The new glass keyboard would have keys either painted on the surface or provided as graphics on a display below the surface. Interestingly enough, Haptic or tacile response would be offered via vibration or motion to the user’s fingers when hit on the surface.

Apple explains how it would use of one or more piezo-electric sensors to sense and record an acoustic pulse produced when the user taps on the keyboard.

In the example shown in FIG. 3, two piezo-electric (“piezo”) sensors 310, 312 are arranged within the keyboard structure with one on the left sidewall of the keyboard structure and the other on the right sidewall of the structure. The piezo sensors are situated to receive an acoustic pulse created when the user taps a segment or segments of the top surface of the keyboard.

Apple’s patent FIG. 3A depicts a cross-sectional top view of the keyboard of FIG. 3 along line “BB” that utilizes three piezo sensors 310-314 to detect an acoustic pulse recognition of a tap on the keyboard surface. During operation, a user taps on the surface of the flat keyboard defined by the keyboard outline. For example, the user may tap on the top surface of the flat keyboard (302) that includes an indication of the letter “H”. When tapped, one or more acoustic pulses 304, 306 propagates away from and along the keyboard’s top surface.

Worthily, another Apple’s patent filing describes the use of proximity sensors to determine when your finger gets close to a key, creating an air to shoot out from the key towards your finger for tactile feedback.

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