Is a Force Touch keyboard possible?

revmacian

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Earlier this month I purchased a 2017 MacBook Pro. I've never owned an Apple laptop so I have no experience with the MBP trackpad. This computer has a trackpad that has no moving parts, though the Taptic Engine has been implemented in such a way as I can't tell that it doesn't actually move when I press it. I like the way this was implemented.

The fact that Apple has moved from a diving board type trackpad to a Force Touch trackpad makes me think that Apple is interested in eliminating moving parts to save on wear and tear.

How difficult would it be to do the same for each key of the keyboard? This would alleviate the 1st and 2nd gen butterfly keyboard issues while still feeling like each key is being pressed.

I'm not a mechanical engineer so I don't know a lot about how this type of tech could feasibly be implemented.
 

revmacian

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They actually just patented a glass keyboard that does exactly what you say. It has several layers, is flexible and has haptic feedback. However, I cannot see it actually coming to fruition on a laptop. The two largest issues that could not really be solved would be weight and heat.

https://www.tomshardware.com/news/apple-patents-responsive-glass-keyboard,38545.html
I also believe that many people wouldn't take kindly to a flat keyboard because it's difficult to know where your fingers are. I suppose it would help if they made a glass keyboard with raised ares to designate each key. Thanks for the link.
 

Cashmonee

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I also believe that many people wouldn't take kindly to a flat keyboard because it's difficult to know where your fingers are. I suppose it would help if they made a glass keyboard with raised ares to designate each key. Thanks for the link.
Yeah, I mean truth be told, I still hate the keyboards on iPhones and iPads. I mistype often and the autocorrect is painfully bad.
 
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NorCalLights

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Apr 24, 2006
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I also believe that many people wouldn't take kindly to a flat keyboard because it's difficult to know where your fingers are. I suppose it would help if they made a glass keyboard with raised ares to designate each key. Thanks for the link.
I can see them making a keyboard with the same raised key profile as the current keyboard, but with no moving parts below the keys. Honestly, the amount of travel that I perceive when I type on my MBP keyboard (with the most recent keyboard revision) isn't all that much more than what I feel when I click on the trackpad.

I'm not saying it'd be a good idea... the key travel is already a problem for a lot of people (me, included)... but I can definitely see Apple doing that. Maybe on the super-slim Macbook or whatever.
 
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Howard2k

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I hope not. I love my iPad but typing more than a couple of sentences is brutal and I’ll opt for a real keyboard.

The recent patent is interesting but it would have to be a spectacularly good implementation. If it’s the T2 of keyboards, then hell no.
 
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meson

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Apr 29, 2014
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Short answer, yes. But, personally, I would say no thanks without a good way of keeping track of my fingers. The solution to the keyboard issue already exists, make the machine a couple mm thicker and use the scissor keyboard mechanism. Unfortunately Mr. Ive won't admit to that sort of mistake, so perhaps a better solution would be to find a reliable way to seal the butterfly keyboard.

Ultimately, I think the Taptic feedback keyboard is the long range goal. The rumors that circulated around the time that the force touch trackpad was developed seemed to imply that end game quite well, and the continuous reduction of key travel is putting us closer to making the jump seem more acceptable.
 

revmacian

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I don’t even use my keyboard half the time, dictation seems to serve my needs quite well more often than not. Just tap the microphone key, speak what you want to say and make maybe a correction or two when you’re done. Of course I’m sure that doesn’t work for everyone.
 

Falhófnir

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I would be curious to see how they would generate haptic feedback quickly and precisely enough for someone who is even a moderately fast typer to feel. Your finger is only in contact for a fraction of a second, and it’s only a fraction of a second until your next keystroke...
 

Howard2k

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I don’t even use my keyboard half the time, dictation seems to serve my needs quite well more often than not. Just tap the microphone key, speak what you want to say and make maybe a correction or two when you’re done. Of course I’m sure that doesn’t work for everyone.

My accent is messed up since I’ve lived in a few countries. I always struggle with voice recognition and ordering drive through! Even in the best of times I found that the amount of time required to go and update and correct punctuation and capitalization means that there is no time saving.
 

revmacian

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My accent is messed up since I’ve lived in a few countries. I always struggle with voice recognition and ordering drive through! Even in the best of times I found that the amount of time required to go and update and correct punctuation and capitalization means that there is no time saving.
I have some co-workers who have thick accents, so I can see how it could present issues with speech recognition. I'll be happy when this type of tech works regardless of speech accents.