Latest Apple Patent Shows Force Touch Replacing Traditional Keyboard With A Single Large Input Pad

Apple Keyboard Patent

One of our least favorite things to do is type out anything lengthy on a virtual keyboard, like those found on smartphones, tablets, and so forth. With that in mind, you'll have to excuse us for not being stoked about a recently discovered Apple patent for a "configurable force-sensitive input structure for electronic devices."

The patent describes a laptop keyboard that replaces traditional physical keys with a special touchpad. If Apple were to implement something like this on, say, a future MacBook model, it would sort of be like typing on the iPad's virtual keyboard, though a little more advanced to provide some haptic feedback and other tricks.

As described in the patent, Apple's fancy touch keyboard would consist of a metal contact layer, a sense layer positioned below it, and a driver layer that's capacitively coupled to the sense layer.

Apple Keyboard Patent

"The input structure may also have a compliant layer positioned between and coupled to the sense layer and the drive layer, a rigid base layer positioned below the drive layer, and a set of supports positioned between the metal contact layer and the rigid base layer," Apple explains in its patent.

One of the reasons Apple thinks this is a good idea is because traditional keys and key caps are susceptible to damage from dust and debris getting inside. Additionally, Apple's solution would allow for a variety of input types depending on the application, such as a traditional keyboard or a large touch pad area when editing photos.

What do you think, is Apple on to something here, or are traditional keyboards still the way to go for laptops?