Apple has been granted a patent (number 20200303140) for a “keyboard with adjustable feedback” that hints at future Mac keyboards that would allow users to adjust the feel and “travel” of the keyboard while typing. Such a keyboard would also offer haptic (touch) feedback.
In the patent data, Apple says that although device makers such as itself make efforts to make products that are comfortable and effective for a wide range of different types of end users, most keyboards and interface devices are substantially static in their feel and sound once they are in end use. End-users and third party sellers are mostly unable to customize and control those factors.
What seems like comfortable and satisfying feedback to one user can be deemed completely inadequate (e.g., overly noisy, stiff or mushy) in feel to another. Consumers would rather not have to compromise on their keyboard in a device that otherwise meets their needs. Apple says there’s a need for various improvements to the implementation of keyboards and related input devices for electronic devices.
Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “Keyboards, input devices, and related systems include key mechanisms with keycaps and actuators that provide adjustable feedback in response to user input. The actuators are controllable to provide variable tactile force or audible feedback that is dependent upon the user input. Encoders are able to transduce a location or relative position of a keycap as it is being pressed over time, and a signal is provided to actuators to cause them to provide feedback corresponding to the position of the keycap as it moves.
“The feedback can change the feel or sound of the keycap based on the keycap positions, time of operation, velocity, user identity, and other factors. Thus, the feel or sound of a keyboard or related input device can be adjusted electronically for efficient testing and increased user customization and feedback modes.”