Removable Key That Works as a Mouse Could Come to Future MacBook

Apple has researched a MacBook keyboard that features a removable key designed to be used as a precision mouse, according to a newly granted patent application.

removable key patent 1
The patent, first spotted by AppleInsider, is titled "Deployable Key Mouse." Apple first applied for the patent in 2021 and it was today granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The patent envisages a seemingly conventional MacBook scissor-system keyboard that features a hidden removable key. This key would be designed to be used as a pointing device and contain a position sensor. Apple describes the system as providing a "comfortable, portable, and precise pointer input for a computer input system."

The filing argues that some precise tasks, such as graphic design, computer-assisted design and modeling, and editing large and complex documents, are better suited to a handheld mouse than a trackpad. Apple acknowledges that carrying a separate mouse with the computer can be burdensome and may be "redundant when the computer already has built-in pointing devices."

The removable key is a viable solution to this issue, according to Apple. In some embodiments, the key would be able to work as normal on the keyboard when it is not deployed and feature a small internal battery.

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Apple outlines various mechanical systems to facilitate the removable key, including sliding a single or set of multiple keys out of the housing vertically, as well as sliding a key out from the side of the machine horizontally. The patent's illustrations show the deployable key located toward the edge of the keyboard so that it would not be a key that sees near constant use.

Patent filings cannot be taken as evidence of Apple's immediate plans, but they do indicate areas of interest for the company and what it is considering developing behind the scenes. While the prospect of a removable key may seem like an outlandish potential MacBook feature, Apple is clearly interested enough in the prospect as to patent the concept. It may be less obtrusive than other unusual features such as the Touch Bar and could appeal to certain pro-users who require maximum portability but could still benefit from occasional precise input.

Tag: Patent

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Top Rated Comments

AngerDanger Avatar
8 months ago
Managed to get my hands on an early prototype.

Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
toobravetosave Avatar
8 months ago
how about just try to keep not ruining ordinary keyboards…
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
klydefrogg Avatar
8 months ago

Removable Key That Works as a Mouse Could Come to Future MacBook
No, no it won't.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jz0309 Avatar
8 months ago
cool patent, will never materialize in a product though ...
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
netsped Avatar
8 months ago

But, won’t a key sized mouse be too… small?
A mouse for ants..



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Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
navier Avatar
8 months ago
It's a gimmick. I tried it, and I am not that impressed...



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Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)