Apple’s Newest Patent: If you are an Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) MacBook user, you may have fallen in love with the keyboard illumination feature. This is something that Cupertino offers that many competitors simply overlook.
While things seem to be working out fine with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s current keyboard illumination technology, in true fashion the tech giant is looking to do things bigger and better in the future.
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, here is a recent patent application from Apple: In-Plane Keyboard Illumination
To better understand the technology, including how it may help future Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) MacBook models, here is the abstract:
“A computer keyboard includes a plurality of keys arranged in a pattern contained within a plane, a webbed structure defining openings for each of the keys, an illumination source, and one or more light pipes positioned along the webbed structure and arranged to deliver light from the illumination source to the keys, wherein each of the keys is illuminated thereby. Although the keys have the appearance of being backlit similar to traditional illuminated keyboards, the illumination source is actually located along at least one side of and within the same plane as the pattern of keys, rather than beneath the keys. The keyboard can thus be made thinner in such arrangements where the illumination source does not need to be located beneath the keys.”
As you can see, this has more to do with where the lights are located and less to do with how the keys are actually lit up.
It appears that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) would like to make this change for one primary reason: it will allow them to make future MacBook notebooks even thinner since the illumination source is “located along at least one side of and within the same plane as the pattern of keys, rather than beneath the keys.”
Since the lights are not below the keys, it will allow for a thinner keyboard. And as you know, Apple Inc. is all about making its devices thinner and lighter.
The patent goes on to discuss the issues with traditional backlighting in greater detail:
“Although backlighting can often be more aesthetically pleasing, such arrangements typically require one or more illumination sources to be located beneath the various keys. Although this may not be an issue in some cases, the addition of such light sources does increase the thickness of the keyboard to some degree.”
This is one of those Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) patents that has the feeling of actually being used in the future. Of course, it has to be awarded first.
This is a continuation of a patent first filed in June of 2010. The inventors are listed as Peter Mahowald, Patrick Kessler, and Harold Welch.
Want to see some images of how this feature may work? Check out the following page: