Future Stuff: Apple Files Patent for Sexy Sounding Keyless Keyboard

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Apple’s design philosophy of ardent minimalism has now made its way into a couple of Mac products, such as the buttonless Magic Trackpad and Magic Mouse. Now Patently Apple has come across another filing with the US Patent & Trademark Office for a keyless, glass-based keyboard submitted by the Cupertino-based company some time last week.

Contrary to a traditional mechanical keyboard, which is prone to things like dirt and cookie crumbs, the new device would utilize pressure-sensitive piezoelectronic sensors and capacitive detectors (similar to the home button on the third-gen iPod) to determine exactly what keys are meant to be pressed.

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The problem with touchscreen keyboards, like on the iPad or other tablet devices, is that the screen is unable to determine whether a user is actually pressing a button or if their fingers are just resting on a key. Piezeoelectrics and capacitive buttons could help rectify this problem by differentiating between accidental presses and delibrate ones, while haptic or tactile feedback could send gentle vibrations back to the fingers to tell users that a key has been pressed.

To add to the future-ness, the keyboard grid would be illuminated by LED lights, which could also in theory shift on the fly to accommodate for other types of key interfaces. Of course, this could have practical applications in things like making music, or even gaming.

Mind you, this is just a patent, and Apple has filed numerous applications for keyless keyboards in the past. But this one seems to address a lot of the gripes people already have with touchscreen keyboards while doing away with all the ugly nooks and crannies that their designers seem to loathe. Apple typically hits the sweet spot between form and function when it comes to new hardware, and a keyless, unibody keyboard would certainly be a welcome pencil scratch in the company’s growth.

[via Patently Apple]

MORE: Apple Patents Keyboard That Knows What You’ll Type Before You Do

Chris Gayomali is a writer-reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @chrigz, on Facebook, or on Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.