Apple Patents the “Any Key”

Cory Gunther

Review Geek

Apple Patents the “Any Key”

Imagine typing on an all-new Macbook with aluminum keys that could dynamically change and transform into another key in seconds. Like the “A” and surrounding keys turning into a 9-key. Well, that’s a possibility, according to new patents filed by Apple.

While Apple patents all sorts of technology, many of which never see the light of day, this one makes a lot of sense. Spotted by PatentlyApple, it looks like the company recently patented an idea for the “any key,” where any key on your computer can transform into another. Simpsons fans and Homer will love the idea.

While we’ve seen touchscreen keyboards, or concepts, with a similar idea, this one is entirely different. Apple wants to use physical hardware keys, potentially ones made of aluminum, and then an array of LEDs underneath that can change on the fly. The patent mentions physical keys with “illuminable glyphs that are selectively visible or invisible to an unaided human eye.”

Apple any key patent image.

Apple / USPTO

Essentially, it sounds like Apple wants to replace the current printed keys with ones that can change dynamically. The LEDs on the bottom can light up individual pixels, changing a key into something else.

The options are endless if this becomes a reality. Imagine your keyboard quickly shifting along with macOS while browsing the web, using a different language, editing photos, or playing games. Users could transform the keyboard into the exact macro-key setup they’d like for gaming or video editing shortcuts.

Having a keyboard that can change on the fly, as needed, to fit any task would make your MacBook even more useful. Remember that just because the company patented this doesn’t mean it’ll ever come out, but it’s exciting nonetheless.

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