The reconfigurable panel is designed with a small screen for each key, allowing the panel to display different characters according to user preferences.
It comes after the company last month patented a new version of the Touch Bar with its built-in Force Touch technology.
Apple has upgraded keyboards over the MacBook in recent years with additions, such as the Touch Bar, which you can program yourself, in addition to Touch ID, which is Apple’s fingerprint sensor.
Given that numbers, letters and symbols are printed on keyboards, it’s difficult to make more drastic changes.
The new idea might look similar to the current Touch Bar, except that the new keyboard works in a different way.
The physical keys still exist, but the patent shows that the keys across the new keyboard have a very small screen for each key instead of the regular engraved stickers.
The patent reveals a panel with dynamic labels created by OLED screens with pixel arrays.
These screens aren’t expected to be of high resolution or other fanciful specifications, as they should focus on showing basic characters.
This allows users to set up various board layouts that also change key labels, such as: specific layout for games, programming, or video editing.
Apple can also create a single panel template that is being used worldwide, so that the new keyboard keys will be able to show different characters based on users’ settings.
The user may want to switch the panel between the first format (English language format for example) and the second format (German language format for example).
The electronic device control circuit can adjust the keyboard stickers displayed by the key screens from English characters to German characters, thus switching the panel from the first format to the second format.
The patent illustrations reveal that Apple is studying the use of this new technology with integrated boards found in MacBook computers and standalone panels designed for desktop computers, such as: iMac, Mac mini and Mac Pro.
It is reported that Apple often registers new patents, but this does not necessarily mean that these features or technologies may be added to the real product in the future, and the idea may not be developed outside the scope of the patent.
However, these specific patents are an indication that the company is working on some new things to improve physical keyboards that have gone through a lot in recent years.