Apple patent applications describe individually lit, multi-color keyboard backlights

“Apple has show interest in providing more advanced keyboard backlights on its notebook computers, allowing greater user interaction with individually lit keys and multiple colors,” Neil Hughes reports for AppleInsider.

“A slew of patent applications revealed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week reveal Apple’s interest in advancing its keyboard backlights,” Hughes reports. “They note that current keyboards offer some feedback via light, such as when the ‘Caps Lock’ key is enabled, but a more informative keyboard could be beneficial to users.”

Hughes reports, “Apple’s solution, described in a handful of new patent applications, would have more dynamic keyboard backlights, with individually illuminated keys and multiple colors. One application, titled “Keyboard with Increased Control of Backlit Keys,” describes a MacBook that would have different illumination schemes based on which application is running.”

More info, including Apple’s patent application illustrations, in the full article here.


  1. This is for all the whiners who claim that Apple doesn’t/wouldn’t innovate when competition is non-existent. Add in the other armchair tech pundits who envisions Apple to abandon keyboard centric world for the iOS.

  2. I believe this is one of many patents that Apple files just because someone in there thought of them, but will eventually never see the day.

    I have no doubt in my mind that Apple is steadily marching towards mouseless, keyboardless multi-touch computing across all of their Mac hardware. I’m sure they will continue to offer keyboards to those who need them, but I doubt that they will focus much of their innovation on a hardware contraption that is, for the most part, going away, to be replaced with a virtual, on-screen keyboard.

  3. They can’t even give us some regular old keyboard backlighting for the entire MacBook line. If you think we’re going to see this shit anytime soon, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

  4. I do not believe that Apple with use the Optimus technology in their product line. Mostly because of the cost (retail price is $1,600 for the keyboard). However it wouldn’t surprise me to see Apple write a keyboard driver for the Optimus keyboard.

    Apple had a couple other keyboard related patents that might indicate that they are moving in a different direction. One of those patents was on the use of a screen layer that could electronically morph its shape. That patent described virtual keyboards that would outline each of the keys and even provide ‘pips’ for touch typists. I believe that the Apple trackpad is the direction that they are going. A smooth glass keyboard with a touch screen underneath and a morphing surface on top. It will probably be able to display video and hence will have to wait for Light Peak to make its debut.

    Anyway, I would like an interim keyboard that would use color to enhance my world of warcraft experience.

    Go go gadget Apple!!!

  5. @Predrag

    Too true about patents that are for ideas that never get turned into physical devices.

    Read Richard Feynman’s autobiography about the patenting of his idea for an atomic powered airplane; that’s a classical example of patenting ideas that are never built.

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