Ever spilled a coffee on your Mac’s keyboard? Not good. However, Apple is working on a method to keep those keyboards more resistant to spills.
Apple has been granted a patent (number 10,082,880) for “system level keyboards” with such resistance. Interestingly, the keyboard shell could also sport a rear aperture formed into a side wall that may be configured as an antenna that is tuned to transmit a wireless signals at a transmission frequency.
In the patent filing, Apple says that traditional input devices, such as keyboards, may be formed from a large number of components and subassemblies that may be integrated into a relatively large or bulky form factor. The size and complexity of a traditional keyboard may be due, in part, to the design and construction of the enclosure and the size and form factor of the circuit board or other electronic components.
Additionally, many input devices have components such as circuit boards and electronics that may be vulnerable to contaminants such as water or other liquids. For example, a keyboard having keys and key openings located on the top of the device may be particularly susceptible to water ingress, which may corrode, destroy or otherwise damage electronic components or circuit boards that are located beneath the key openings. Apple says there’s a need for an input device having a simplified design that may also provide adequate protection for internal components.
Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “keyboard device includes a shell having a set of aperture formed into a top surface. A group of keys are disposed in the set of apertures. A platform is disposed under the group of keys and substantially fills an interior of the shell. The platform has a cavity formed in a lower surface of the platform. A circuit board, which is operable to control the keyboard is disposed within the cavity. The platform is configured to prevent ingress of liquid and debris that may enter the set of apertures.”
Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.