Apple has been granted a patent (number US 11720176 B2) for a “device having an integrated interface system.” It involves a Mac laptop with a built-in virtual keyboard and virtual trackpad.

About the patent

In the patent Apple notes that many electronic devices include one or more input devices such as keyboards, trackpads, mice, or touchscreens to enable a user to interact with the device. In some traditional electronic devices, the inclusion of one or more of the input devices may require the formation of a hole, opening, or seam through which liquid or other foreign matter may enter the device enclosure. 

Apple says that, additionally, the enclosure of some traditional electronic devices may be formed from materials that are easily scratched or that provide an inferior tactile feel or visual appearance. The company is considering a laptop enclosure formed at least partially from a transparent, dielectric material such as plastic, glass, or a ceramic material. The transparent dielectric material may form a continuous or seamless input surface that may improve the look and feel of the device without having the drawbacks of some traditional device constructions.

What’s more, the device may have haptic (touch) areas. Such areas could be used to provide a virtual keyboard and a virtual trackpad.

Summary of the patent

Here’s Apple’s abstract of the patent: “A portable computer includes a display portion comprising a display and a base portion pivotally coupled to the display portion. The base portion may include a bottom case and a top case, formed from a dielectric material, coupled to the bottom case. The top case may include a top member defining a top surface of the base portion and a sidewall integrally formed with the top member and defining a side surface of the base portion. 

“The portable computer may also include a sensing system including a first sensing system configured to determine a location of a touch input applied to the top surface of the base portion and a second sensing system configured to determine a force of the touch input.”

Article provided with permission from AppleWorld.Today