Apple has been granted a patent (number 20180074545) for a “capacitive touch opening display for an electronic device.” If it ever reaches fruition, it would involve a Mac laptop that opens by tapping a small touch sensor atop the screen rather than pressing a physical button.
Why? Apple says that with the latter, a user still may feel as if some amount of prying or inconvenience is required to open a laptop. This may particularly be true where a given device has a clutch assembly in the hinge that is relatively stiff or resistant. While current hinged component designs for electronic devices have worked well in the past, Apple says there’s s a need for improved designs in electronic devices having hinged components that provide a better user experience when opening or closing the electronic device.
It also opens up the possibility of added security. For example, if the touch sensor incorporated Touch ID, it would refer an approved fingerprint for the Mac laptop to open.
Here’s Apple’s (highly technical) summary of the invention: “A capacitive touch opening system can be used with a portable electronic device having rotationally coupled components, such as a laptop computer having a display component that opens from a base component. A first magnet in a first device component (e.g., display) can be located proximate a second magnet in a second device component (e.g., base) when the display is in a closed position relative to the base.
“A sensor on the portable electronic device can detect a sensed event, whereupon the display is rotated automatically to an open position relative to the base using a repulsion force between the magnets. The sensor can be a capacitive touch sensor on the device housing, and may be the entire display housing. One of the magnets can be an electromagnet that may change its magnetic field. An attraction force between the magnets can exist when no sensed event is taking place.”
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.