Apple has been granted a patent (number 11,353,921) that hints at future Macs, iPhones, iPads, and other devices that “disappear” until needed. The patent filing is dubbed “disappearing button or slider.”
About the patent
The invention involves input devices and display systems that may become visible when illuminated from behind through invisible holes. Why would Apple want to do this? To make its devices more visually appealing, of course.
In the patent filing, Apple says that in the world of consumer devices, and particularly consumer electronics, there is an ever-present demand for improved appearance, improved functionality, and improved aesthetics. One area that receives attention for improvement, particularly in consumer electronics, is user input and interface.
Apple says that one challenge with current input devices (buttons, switches, touch pads, track pads, touch screens, etc.) “is that they may detract from the aesthetics of the device by interrupting the continuity of the device housing.” The tech giant adds that a seamless design may have improved functionality and/or durability. For example, a traditional mechanical key pad can wear out over time and/or be ruined by dirt or moisture entering into the openings in the device housing. These openings are necessary to accommodate the traditional keys and buttons.
Summary of the patent
Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “An input device is operable to detect input. The input device is a deflection based capacitive sensing input device. Deflection of a metal frame of the input device causes a change in capacitance that is used to control a function of an electrical device. The input device appears invisible because it is made of the same material as the housing it is contained in. Invisible backlit holes may make the input selectively visible or invisible to the user.”
Article provided with permission from AppleWorld.Today