Apple has plans for enhanced keyboard illumination in its Mac line — or so a new patent (number 831928) indicates. Per the patent, a keyboard may be generally illuminated while also providing for key-specific illumination of one or more particular keys.

The keyboard may be generally illuminated using any configuration of any number of suitable illumination sources. The keyboard may selectively illuminate any key or keys together with or apart from the general illumination of other keys. The keyboard may also variably illuminate certain keys to aid the user in navigating the keyboard.

Here’s Apple’s background on the invention: “Currently, there are a wide variety of known electronic devices that include a keyboard as a user interface component (e.g., cellular telephones and personal computers). The keyboard of many of these devices can be illuminated such that a user may be able to see and use the keyboard when provided with little or no ambient light. For example, some known devices include a light source, such as a light emitting diode (“LED”), underneath each of a plurality of the keys of the keyboard. Alternatively, some known devices include only a few light sources, but diffuse the light in such a way that each of the keys of the keyboard are illuminated.

“However, these light sources can add an undesirable additional weight to the electronic device which can undesirably increase the thickness of the electronic devices. Therefore, it would be beneficial to provide systems and methods for improving the illumination of an electronic device keyboard while reducing the thickness and weight.”

The inventors are Chad A. Bronstein and Peter H. Mahowald.