Apple Imagines Mac-Inside-a-Keyboard Device Evocative of 80s Home Computers

Apple is exploring the possibility of integrating a fully functioning Mac within a keyboard, reminiscent of home computers of the 80s, such as the Commodore 64 and Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

vissles lp85 keyboard6

Image credit: Vissles

The concept was revealed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in a new Apple patent application called "Computer in an input device," which describes a thicker Magic Keyboard-style chassis with "all the components of a high performance computer" integrated under the hood.

The patent describes the premise for such a device, which could be plugged into a separate external display via a single I/O port designed to receive both data and power, and wirelessly paired with a trackpad or mouse for additional input.

Although portable computing devices, such as laptops and tablets, can be docked at an office or home-office station that includes a secondary display to provide a computing experience that is similar to a desktop computing experience, these devices still require an additional set of input devices to imitate a desktop computing device. Further, the primary display of devices such as laptops and tablets often may not be used when the device is docked to a station that includes a secondary display, adding potentially unnecessary size and cost to such portable computing devices.

The computing devices described herein can incorporate or otherwise house one or more computing components within an input device to provide a portable desktop computing experience at any location having one or more computer monitors. For example, a user can transport a keyboard that houses a computer, as opposed to carrying an entire laptop or a tower and keyboard. As some form of an input device is often required for interacting or interfacing with a computing device, including computing components within the housing or enclosure of an input device can eliminate the need for redundant sets of input devices and reduces the number of components that need to be transported by the user. Further the input device can eliminate additional components such as displays, that are not required when used with a standalone computer monitor, thereby reducing costs and size.

mac inside keyboard patent2

By including the computing components in the keyboard, Apple suggests this could allow a user to carry a single device that can provide a desktop computing experience at any location having one or more external displays.

In some embodiments, the device includes a trackpad "coupled" to the enclosure, while in others the device is foldable and the keyboard area includes an "accessory display" showing graphics, or the keyboard itself is virtually displayed from a projector contained inside the enclosure.

mac inside keyboard patent1
The rest of the patent explores in detail various configurations of internal computer components within the space afforded by the keyboard chassis.

Apple has filed patents for keyboards in the past, including one that uses a touchscreen panel similar to the Touch Bar that extends to the entire keyboard layout, but this is the first patent to suggest actually incorporating a computer into the keyboard itself.

As with any filed patent, the technology is unlikely to appear in any product soon, if at all, but it does offer an interesting look at how Apple is considering Mac designs that could ultimately replace or be offered alongside the Mac mini, which allows users to bring their own display, keyboard, and mouse.

(Via Patently Apple.)

Tag: Patent

Top Rated Comments

DHagan4755 Avatar
13 months ago
"Mac mini? Where we're going, you don't need a Mac mini."



Attachment Image
Score: 75 Votes (Like | Disagree)
danmart Avatar
13 months ago
How can any company patent something like this, when as the first sentence of this piece says, this is how all home computers were like 40 years ago?
Score: 71 Votes (Like | Disagree)
System603 Avatar
13 months ago
Given Apple's recent track record with keyboards, I'd be very cautious before buying one.
Score: 45 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JKApple08 Avatar
13 months ago
This is very clearly one of the ways they intend to pair their VR headset… everyone is saying it’s a computer without a screen… but the headset will be the screen.
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WiiDSmoker Avatar
13 months ago
And this is why Apple could never go back to Intel. Their future design is a quiet natively cooled chip not requiring a fan.
Score: 39 Votes (Like | Disagree)
icanhazmac Avatar
13 months ago
This makes far more sense than an iMac. Give me a computer with a separate monitor any day, AIOs are environmental disasters.
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 16

iOS 16.3 Now Available for Your iPhone With These 4 New Features

Friday February 3, 2023 1:13 pm PST by
Apple released iOS 16.3 in late January following nearly six weeks of beta testing. The software update is available for the iPhone 8 and newer, and while it is a relatively minor update, it still includes a handful of new features, changes, and bug fixes. Below, we've recapped new features in iOS 16.3, including support for physical security keys as a two-factor authentication option for...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

Gurman: Apple Considering New High-End iPhone Alongside Pro and Pro Max

Sunday February 5, 2023 6:07 am PST by
Apple has discussed selling a new top-of-the-line iPhone alongside the Pro and Pro Max models in 2024 at the earliest, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Based on this timeframe, the device would be part of the iPhone 16 lineup or later. In a September 2022 edition of his weekly "Power On" newsletter, Gurman said there was "potential" for an iPhone 15 Ultra to replace the iPhone 15 Pro...
ipad air purple

Deals: M1 iPad Air Hits Record-Low Prices at TigerDirect, Starting at $313.99 (48% Off) [Updated]

Saturday February 4, 2023 10:05 am PST by
Online retailer TigerDirect has slashed pricing on the M1 iPad Air in several colors, offering the base 64GB configuration for just $313.99 in Purple and Pink. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with TigerDirect. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. That's a savings of 48% compared to Apple's normal $599.00...
mac studio pink

Apple May Not Launch Updated Mac Studio With M2 Ultra Chip Due to Similarity With Upcoming Mac Pro

Sunday February 5, 2023 6:06 am PST by
A new version of the Mac Studio with the "M2 Ultra" chip is unlikely to arrive in the near future, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. In the latest edition of his "Power On" newsletter, Gurman explained that since the upcoming Apple silicon Mac Pro is "very similar in functionality to the Mac Studio," Apple may wait until the release of M3- or M4-series chips to update the machine, or...
webkit vs chromium feature

Google Working on Browser for iOS That Would Break Apple's App Store Rules

Saturday February 4, 2023 1:30 am PST by
Google's Chromium developers are working on an experimental web browser for iOS that would break Apple's browser engine restrictions, The Register reports. The experimental browser, which is being actively pursued by developers, uses Google's Blink engine. Yet if Google attempted to release it on the App Store, it would not pass Apple's App Review process. Apple's App Store rules dictate...
Apple Silicon Teal Feature

The Next Big Apple Silicon Device May Not Be a Mac or iPad

Wednesday February 1, 2023 3:57 am PST by
Apple's next device with an Apple silicon chip may not be a Mac or an iPad, but rather an advanced external display, according to recent reports. The display, which is rumored to arrive this year, is expected to sit somewhere between the $1,599 Studio Display and the $4,999 Pro Display XDR – but more exact information about the device's positioning and price point is as yet unknown. While ...
top stories 4feb2023

Top Stories: New HomePod Launches, iOS 16.3.1 Coming Soon, and More

Saturday February 4, 2023 6:00 am PST by
This week saw the launch of the final product from Apple's January hardware announcements, with the second-generation HomePod making its way into customers' hands. Other news and rumors this week included signs of an interim iOS 16.3.1 bug fix update in the works as we await a fresh round of beta testing for a more significant iOS 16.4 update, a report on the potential dangers of using...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With Apple's Second-Generation HomePod

Friday February 3, 2023 1:28 pm PST by
Today is the official launch day for the second-generation HomePod that was introduced in January, and we picked one up to compare it to the original HomePod that Apple discontinued in 2021. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design wise, the second-generation HomePod looks a lot like the first-generation model, featuring the same rounded design and acoustic mesh...