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 like that, one guy from Finland – and three girls from Sweden.
    In my dreams – nightly! Hahahahahah. I mean I’m that one guy with three girls – my dream. Gulp.

    1) no mouse, 2) no keyboard, 3) 10″ ultra-slim notebook with touch screen, 4) 64 Gb Flash Memory

    1 guy + 3 girls = 4 but not four different products this is one product Steve is doing it to us again

    iGesture could be all these in one item.

  2. I am starting to think that large 13″ tablet device isn’t going to happen. Forget the docking patent the other day also.

    This reminds me of the old Commodore Vic 20. It was this keyboard that contained the entire computer. You just needed a monitor. Ok, back then a tape drive too. But thinking the way some of the others have been thinking here. I am sold and liking it. And it makes sense.

    So you dump your key board and mouse from your Desktop setup and travel where ever you go with this iGuest or iGesture thing. A virtual keyboard and more.

    It has a scaled version of OSX. It’s an all touch screen surface, roughly the size of two iPod Touch devices. With a choice of 32 or 64 Gb internal memory, so you have your stuff when you’re on the go. This rectangular device would suit the needs and be small enough to be in the sub-notebook category. And combining all things cool – it would be a way-cool Apple product.

    This is it, yeah I am convinced now, there is no other device coming. Just this radical keyboard done in multi-touch style.

    And if Art Lebedev sells the OLED at 1500.00 USD then with Apple could in fact successfully sell this device in the 1099.99 to 1299.99 range.

    Anthony Scholtz

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