Touch sensitive mechanical keyboards for detecting touch events and key depressions on the keyboard are provided. The keyboard can include a set of individually depressible mechanical keys having a touch sensitive area located on their surface. A touch sensor can be included to detect touch events on the surface of the keys. A keypad can also be included to detect a depression of the mechanical keys. One or more of the depressible mechanical keys can be multi-purpose keys capable of being depressed to multiple levels. The touch sensitive mechanical keyboard can receive key depression input, touch event input, or combinations thereof at the same time. The touch sensitive mechanical keyboard can further include a processor for distinguishing detected touch events from detected key depressions. The processor can generate a key depression command or a touch event command in response to the detected touch events and key depressions.
Input from each of the user's hands is processes separately, enabling one hand to enter text through traditional key presses, while the other manages cursor control through touches. Notably, the patent describes the keyboard as both an integrated and external accessory, meaning the product could come to both MacBooks and standalone iMacs.
As with most Apple patents, it remains unclear if this concept will ever make it to a real product, nevertheless, it is interesting to see Apple researching innovative input methods for MacBooks and iMacs.
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