Apple’s research machinery never stops. Always looking for a way to advance technology or just invent new technologies. This is the case of a new patent in which Apple is studying a technology of retractable keys that would allow laptops with the Apple logo to be even thinner.
A thinner laptop without sacrificing battery or functionality
At this point in technological development, it seems that making a product even thinner comes at the cost of losing some functionality, such as battery life. Regarding the keyboard, it seems that Apple has found a most interesting solution for reduce thickness while retaining all the features we expect from a MacBook
In short, the patent boils down to a system that would leave all keys pressed when the Mac cover is closed to reduce the thickness of the computer by a few millimeters. What is certain is that it may seem to us that a few millimeters of thickness is littleBut on a MacBook Pro like the 16-inch, that can represent a nice drop in weight.
A system which, by closing the lid of our Mac, is able to keep, without any expenditure of energy, all the keys pressed or retracted to reduce the thickness.
The system would have some kind of electromagnet under the keys, so that when the cover is lowered these would activate and hold the key down
The keyboard may include a substrate and a key mechanism including a key holder mechanism, a key supported by the key holder mechanism, a ferromagnetic component attached to the key holder mechanism, and a selectively magnetizable magnetic system. The selectively magnetizable magnetic system comprises a magnetizable material and a coil configured to selectively magnetize and demagnetize the magnetizable material.
The keyboard cover may be bistable (i.e. capable of being held in either position without external force); the position of the keyboard cover may vary as the magnetizable material becomes magnetized or demagnetized.
It is important to note that the patent explains that this system would not need electricity on an ongoing basis to keep keys retracted. A system which, similar to electronic ink, retains its properties until a point electric current changes state.
It is clear that this system would allow the keys to have a longer stroke, quite comfortable when writing, even if it is a matter of taste, without increasing the thickness of the machine and allowing, in fact, a reduction of it. Clearly taking up less space inside the Mac would also allow more battery to fit inside the machine, an option that, given the impressive battery life figures of the new Macs M1, may not be the way to go.