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Apple patents reveal virtual keyboard, invisible trackpad and — gasp — innovation

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According to a series of patents filed by Apple, it appears that the company is working on a laptop that has a virtual keyboard and an invisible trackpad. Following the touch bar disaster but clearly not in time for the MacBook Pro refresh, these patents suggest an innovative future for Apple.

If you like your innovation in a closed ecosystem that is. Which you do. Cause you’re an Apple fanboi and the thought, just the thought, of a virtual keyboard makes your pants disposable.

The patents appear to show a transparent top that has several sensors housed underneath. The sensors will detect where your fingers are, where and what they are touching and how much pressure is being applied. The whole section under the keyboard will be a trackpad, because we all know how easy it is to type with a regular trackpad under your wrist.

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Image: Apple

The abstract of the patent lays it out:

A portable computer includes a display portion comprising a display, a base portion pivotally coupled to the display portion and including a glass top case. The glass top case defines an exterior surface and a keyboard opening through the glass top case from the exterior surface to an interior surface. The portable computer further includes a keyboard positioned at least partially within the keyboard opening and comprising a substrate, a key configured to move relative to the substrate, and a fabric cover disposed over the key and defining a user interface surface of the key.

There have been patents prior to this suggesting a virtual keyboard system. This one might suggest that with a transparent top, there could be a display underneath which can be used as a flashlight I guess. Additionally, the keyboard could easily show alternative buttons as well as support gesture control. The gist is that there would be no mechanical keyboard or any physical keys whatsoever.

While Apple does file a lot of patents, this one does speak to a future that movies and sci-fi have imagined for years. Hell, even Parks & Rec had virtual devices in its last season. Regardless, it at least shows that Apple might not be done innovating yet.

What do you think? Would you use a virtual keyboard? Let us know below.

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A tech writer on the internet for over 15 years for outlets such as Forbes, Wired, TNW, and others, Curtis is exhausted, burnt out and happy to just write buying guides and the occasional review for KnowTechie, the best tech blog your mom never told you about. Ephemeral existence for ephemeral times. Please send pitches and grainy pictures of the inside of your elbow to kevin@knowtechie.com

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