In the past, Apple has tried to reinvent the keyboard on Mac computers in different ways. One of the best known is the “butterfly” mechanism keyboard, which was eventually abandoned in favor of a conventional “scissor” mechanism.
The company also reinvented the function keys on MacBook Pros, replacing them with a user-configurable Touch Bar panel.
Now it seems that the company wants to bring the idea of Touch Bar to the entire keyboard, although with some differences.
According to a recently granted patent, Apple is exploring the idea of a keyboard that could have adaptive displays on each physical key. This means that each key would have its own screen that could change and adapt according to the situation in question.
For example, suppose you are watching a movie. The keyboard could switch to display keys that allow control of playback and volume. It can also be useful if you use editing applications like Photoshop, Premiere, etc., as the keys could be adapted to be used as shortcuts for certain functions.
Apple could also create a unique keyboard model to be used around the world, as the keys on this new keyboard could display different characters based on user settings.
The user may, for example, wish to switch a keyboard between a first format (for example, an English format) and a second format (for example, a Greek format).
In response to user input to change the keyboard, the control circuits of an electronic device can adjust the key labels displayed on the key displays from English letters to Greek letters, thus changing the keyboard from the first format to the second format.
That said, it seems like a pretty ambitious idea and it would take quite a while for people to get used to the new system. We don’t know if Apple plans to make this happen, but if so, it will be something interesting to watch.