Future Apple MacBook keyboards may come loaded with miniature in-key displays

“While Apple’s most recent innovations have come from portables like the iPad Air and iPhone 5s, a document uncovered on Thursday reveals a feature-laden keyboard with multi-function ‘keystacks’ that integrate miniature displays, touch sensors and haptic feedback mechanisms,” Mikey Campbell reports for AppleInsider.

“Showing the company is still making advances in more traditional tech, an Apple patent filing for ‘Multi-functional keyboard assemblies’ describes a keyboard consisting of an array of so-called ‘keystacks,’ or individual keys layered with electronics, sensors and switches,” Campbell reports. “”

“Published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple’s application takes cues from third-party accessories like Art. Lebedev Studio’s Optimus Maximus keyboard, which sported clear keycaps overlaid atop small configurable OLED displays,” Campbell reports. “Apple’s invention builds on this display-within-key concept by adding multiple layers to the keystack. While the Optimus is limited to input via a physical switch and output through an OLED, Apple’s invention allows for multiple modes of input and output.”

Read more, and see Apple’s patent application illustrations, in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Okay, who else thought of “sleestaks” when you first read “keystacks?”


    1. Hey bob, the shift key in iOS works great when you need an uppercase letter, so what are you whining about? And why is everyone lauding your comment?

      Besides. the article doesn’t pertain to iOS.

      1. I think he’s referring to how the letters on the onscreen keyboard on iOS devices show upper case letters regardless of the state of the shift key.

  1. Configurable keyboards with displays are already out there, they are just not cheap enough to be mainstream yet.

    Key “stacks” actually refers to the space ABOVE the keys, like some kind of Leap Motion detection under the keyboard. I’ve been expecting Apple to either buy Leap or build their own into their keyboards/laptops.

  2. Considering that such keyboards may require more power to run, I wouldn’t mind seeing a programmable keyboard using e-ink tech. This would allow users to configure their keyboard quickly between Dvorak and Qwerty layouts among others as well as only using power to change the keycap displays when needed.

  3. In 1987 I was marketing manager for G.O. Graphics, a typesetting software company. Because different fonts had different keyboard layouts it was often necessary to use a reference chart to determine which key to use. This problem was solved with a keyboard we imported from Germany. Each keycap had an LCD display and would show the character that would be produced from pressing a key. We sold the keyboard for $5,000. Here is more info:

  4. Just come out with a double screen Mac. Bottom screen can be used for something OTHER than a keyboard !
    See MDN for MARCH 5th 2013. One comment is:
    The purpose is to be reconfigurable. So if you’re playing a game, the keyboard area could be turned into a game controller. If you’re in a music app, perhaps it could convert to being a sound board for mixing and so forth. That’s great if they could actually get it right

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