This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.
Your favorite keyboards tend to last for years, and it's not uncommon for letters to wear out over time. Apple has applied for a patent to improve the durability of the keyboard to avoid this problem.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published a patent application for a "transparent key cap" on April 2, which prefaces the application by stating that the design of the device is likely to conflict with its durability. "A pleasing exterior appearance of an electronic device is often difficult to pair with the market demand for advanced functionality, improved durability, key definition, and reduced thickness and weight" is reminiscent of the butterfly keyboard, which has never been more durable than in its quest for thinness.
Now, the main topic of the patent is a countermeasure to the fact that the printed keytop characters tend to wear out over time. The idea is to avoid this problem by making a keycap out of a transparent material and attaching an inverted glyph (letters, numbers, symbols, etc.) to the bottom of the keycap. The glyphs are made of an opaque material, and the glyphs can be seen through the glass (the glyphs are not physically accessible).
These keyboards are thin, light, and durable, according to the company. Scratch-resistant candidates for keytops include "glasses, transparent ceramics (e.g., sapphire), transparent polymers," while transparency and translucency are said to work well with backlit and sidelit keyboards because they can "transfer, reflect, or distribute light".
First used on the 12-inch MacBook in 2015, the butterfly keyboard suffered from weaknesses in durability in exchange for a thin and beautiful design, which led to a class action lawsuit and the implementation of a free keyboard repair program for all models. It is believed to have been effectively discontinued after the Magic Keyboard was adopted in the 16-inch MacBook Pro at the end of 2019.
But on the other hand, there were rumors that Apple is trying to improve the butterfly formula and may return in the future. The beauty of the design is just one of the essential value-added features of the Mac, so it may be possible that the company may try to revive it with new technology.
This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.