A newly discovered Apple patent could mean the end to physical keyboards on MacBooks.
Dubbed ‘Zero Travel,’ the patent aims to turn your existing keyboard into a flat surface — like typing on a screen. The patent identifies using haptic feedback as a means to let you know you’ve struck a key.
Though it’s not clear where the naming actually came from, it’s like a nod to key travel on an actual keyboard. Apple reduced this with the butterfly mechanism on new MacBooks, but it seems that didn’t do the trick.
Interestingly enough, Apple also envisions having a 10-key numeric keypad show up near the faux trackpad. Conceptually, that could be used for a slew of other add-ons and features, even from third party developers.
There’s plenty of upside to it, too. SwiftKey on the MacBook could be a thing, as could the ability to switch from a traditional keyboard to a giant trackpad for image editing. You could also change the layout of a keyboard as well as the haptic feedback, bringing in a level of personalization we’ve never had on a laptop.
It’s still just a patent, so don’t expect it to arrive for the next wave of MacBooks. While it points to doom for physical keyboard lovers, it would probably help make future MacBooks even thinner.
But typing on a flat screen as a default? I’m not sure that’d go over well.