Apple is considering a MacBook with a pop-up keyboard

This concept drawing gives a side view of the mechanism that could be used in a MacBook with a pop-up keyboard.
Photo: Apple / Cult of Mac

Suppose your MacBook’s keyboard lifted slightly and turned toward you when you opened the lid. It’s an idea described by a patent that Apple just got.

The concept has ergonomic advantages, but also adds moving parts.

Imagine a MacBook with a retractable keyboard

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted Apple Patent no. 11,181,949 for retractable keyboards.

“Retractable keyboards have been discovered,” Apple writes in the stylized language used in patent applications. “Movable magnetic or mechanical connecting elements are configured to move the key covers and stabilizers between different relative positions. Movable layer structures can act on key covers or stabilizers to move the key covers and stabilizers to the retracted position to store and save space in the electronic device. ”

Advantages and disadvantages of the MacBook pop-up keyboard

Apple’s patent application mentions “saving space in the electronic device,” but the retractable keyboard wouldn’t actually use less space. The mechanism still has to fit between the two halves of the MacBook cover. In addition, a keyboard lift mechanism would actually add mass.

But there may be an ergonomic advantage. MacBooks are extremely comfortable to carry, but typing on one usually involves poor posture and wrist positions. A pop-up keyboard might help a little.

On the other hand, the retractable keyboard is a moving part. Something that can be broken. And that is not a feature that many potential buyers will reject. Especially considering Apple’s previous keyboard design problems.

All this said, the patent application does not mean that the MacBook with a pop-up keyboard will be released soon. Or ever. The company’s engineers often patent designs that are never seen again.

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Naveen Kumar

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