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The next MacBook may come with a Self-cleaning Keyboard

Computer technology has become a basic necessity in the modern everyday life, as our daily activities have become computer aided. It has made our life easier, faster and precise. We have adapted to computer aided learning whether it is at home, banks or hospitals; so much so that it is difficult to imagine our lives without it. To interact with computers, we use various input devices, for example keyboards, mice, buttons, touch screens, etc.

Electronic devices are vulnerable to various contaminants. Many worldwide studies have demonstrated that keyboards are the breeding ground for several bacteria, viruses and other microscopic pathogens. One of the biggest problems with the computer keyboard is its contamination through dust and crumbs. Apple is one of very few technology companies that has tried to improve this problem. A recently filed patent by Apple, Inc. reveals that it is trying several new designs for the buttons of its keyboards to make it contamination proof.

The patent titled- “Ingress prevention for keyboards” discloses keyboards that include mechanisms that prevents contaminants  (such as dust, liquid) ingress. These mechanisms include membranes or gaskets which block the contaminant ingress. Funnels, skirts, bands, and other guard structures are also coupled to key caps that block contaminant ingress away from the key caps under areas. Bellows are used that blast the contaminants with forced gas out from around the surface of key caps.

In another embodiment, a different mechanism is used in which a key includes a foundation, an actuator which is coupled with the foundation (base or substrate) between depressed position and an undepressed position and a skirt coupled to the actuator that is configured to form a perimeter around the actuator. The skirt is in contact with the foundation when the actuator is in the undepressed position and in compression between the actuator and the foundation when the actuator is in the undepressed position. The movement mechanism has a particular force curve response to force applied to the key cap that moves the key cap from an undepressed position or state towards a depressed position or state. Some of the designs could use a keyboard in which gasket is a layer of fabric and a layer of silicone.

This patent hints towards a new self-cleaning keyboard from Apple in their MacBooks. These kinds of dust-proof keyboards will be a boon for people who are on the move with their laptops and rarely get time to service them.

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