Apple looks to patent chameleonic keyboard with OLED key faces

An Apple patent application (20080001787) for “Dynamically Controlled Keyboard” published today describes a chameleonic keyboard with changeable OLED key faces. The patent app was filed on March 13, 2007.

Apple’s Abstract:
Methods and apparatus, including computer program products, implementing and using techniques for providing a computer peripheral including one or more keys. Each key has several light emitting diodes disposed on a face of the key. Each of the light emitting diodes can switch on or off in response to a data signal received from an application specific integrated circuit dedicated to the key. A corresponding key and manufacturing method, as well as a computer system including one or more such keys are also described.

Apple’s Description, in part:
Broadly speaking, the present invention provides methods and apparatus for dynamically altering the key faces of keyboard keys, such that they show an accurate representation of what action will occur when a particular key is depressed. In one embodiment the altering key faces are accomplished by placing a number of organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs) on each key face, and using an application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) placed inside each key to turn on and turn off the respective diodes. The respective ASICs are controlled by signals originating from the software application in which the user is currently working and by the selected language locale. As a result, the users always have current and accurate information in front of them about what will happen when a particular key is depressed on the keyboard, and there is no need to memorize what actions particular key depressions will cause.

In general, in one aspect, the invention provides methods and apparatus, including computer program products, implementing and using techniques for providing a computer peripheral including one or more keys. Each key has several light emitting diodes disposed on a face of the key. Each of the light emitting diodes can switch on or off in response to a data signal received from an application specific integrated circuit dedicated to the key.

Full U.S. patent app here.

MacDailyNews Take: If it comes to fruition, hopefully it’ll cost a fraction of the Optimus Maximus LED keyboard which is currently going for US$462.27.

52 Comments

  1. I also believe the physical keyboard is so to be cut out by Apple. Notice the very thin profile of the new keyboard? I believe Apple is just paving the way for the world’s next generation of input device. It’s is funny how Apple has almost always created the “NeXT” thing, we all knew, it was just that once everyone else started using it, they all said of course. Now we sit back and watch as everyone watches and waits for Apple to change it. How paralyzing it must be for all these executive types who use to just wait for Apple to change things, take advantage of the change and make billions. Now they sit back and watch as Apple not only creates it, now they are making the billions, and all the impersonators are prepping their resume’s.

    When Steve first came back to the company I went out and bought my first Mac. It was a 2 PCI slot 6500/75. They had a 6500/225 on sale 2 months later for almost nothing. ( rest in hell Comp USA)

  2. AND the winner of our little contest goes to “Military Police”

    The other Optimus keyboard (Tactus),
    schedule for release in January 2008, is even cooler:

    http://www.artlebedev.com/everything/optimus-tactus/

    Honorable mention goes to “Jeff SU”.

    However, it is believed that “Military Police” dug a little deeper after discovering Jeffs link.

    So congratulations to everyone who participated.

    —-

    NOW lets remember,

    Apple does not invent. It innovates.

    To introduce never seen before technology would be to say one invents. When Apple innovates technology is brings technology to mass consumers to use. Not to large industries that need Multi-Touch Tables in Restaurants. Those were Apples Lisa years.

    The “iJesture” shall be revealed in 2008. Coincidentally not.

    Here’s another little secret, the Optimus-tactus is a, commissioned project aimed with MULTI-TOUCH as the underlying vision. FrogDesign is getting a wee-bit tiresome for Apple so it’s looking for new venues. Thanks to Jonathan for sharing with me. Apple; not liking the name decided to call it, “iJesture”.

    I am no Think Secret dishing out rumours… It’s different when the whole group participates with tiny hints… come on Ive’s they figured it out on there own.

    PS – the price of new technology such as the “OLED Optimus keyboard” is enormous due to copy write and legal protection – plus lack of investment and demand for mass production. When a company like Apple comes in willing to take a concept and breathe life into the project… place a few patents of it’s own on the technology then THERE it is… out in the world BORN for all us to enjoy.

    This is an Apple project. It has been for some time now. Trace back and find for yourself — topics of track pads with multi-touch mentioned patents. It will become real very soon. January is here… count down to the 14th is 11 days and 6 hrs.

    GLAD you all can see the light now! We all are getting Multi-Touch to OS 10.5.2 once “iJesture” is available in stores. Estimated price 269.99 USD.

    Otherwise, enjoy multi-touch through your “MacSlate” with WIFI enabled on it’s virtual keyboard controlling your iMac or MacPro.

    thx

    Dougless

  3. Remember Jeff Han… all the excitement before the wave mentioned prior to iPhone. We are gonna experience this ourselves.

    This is the same. It’s hard to keep all the lips and inventions and concepts from leaking. But they all are in-line to happen.

    Technology is moving extremely fast.
    Everyone starts to think on the same level – the same ideas.

    Art Lebedev is a COMPANY that Apple would buy if not already has or was always in tangent with Apple from get start. For people to think Apple will buy SONY – no not this year – no need.

    This is a repeating theme as was Apples acquisition of FingerWorks – 9 months before the real iPhone appeared.

    the iJesture is real.

    Dougless

  4. A concept keyboard by Art Lebedev,

    and Apple filing several patents seemingly similar which cover the grounds of OLED.

    Very similar to FingerWorks and Apple when Apple filed for a myriad of patents mainly covering what FingerWorks had.

    Something is a buzz and can easily imagine this could very well be true. Interesting.

Add Your Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.