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Fusion keyboard design allows Apple to combine trackpad into the keyboard

A recently uncovered patent filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office reveals that Apple is working on a keyboard with integrated gesture control. An idea that isn’t too far off from the keyboard on the BlackBerry Passport.

Apple’s patent covers a full-sized “Fusion keyboard” described as coming with mechanical keys, and a touch sensitive layer on the key’s surface, the keyboard can be used like a trackpad to scroll, perform gestures, click, select and zoom. Somehow.

This design would allow Apple to create smaller and even thinner notebooks as it could abandon the trackpad. That’s exactly what we need! Smaller lighter laptops.

The similar technology on the BlackBerry Passport allows BlackBerry to replicate the functionality of the mini trackpad on its smartphone without requiring space on the phone to accommodate a separate trackpad. It works well on this tiny scale.

The change would make accessing the trackpad more convenient users won’t have to move their fingers to the trackpad to scroll or zoom as they can do it all from the keyboard, it may also make using the keyboard more annoying as you accidentally click scroll and zoom as you try to type.

Keys will also have dual functionality, you can press the key into the first position to type like a normal keyboard. However, if you press the key harder it could be used for different functionality, such as for typing alternate characters, accents or using a foreign alphabet. When combined with the embedded trackpad on the keyboard, this second click position can also replicate a click on the trackpad.

Currently, Apple is making a big push behind its Force touch trackpad technology. Force touch initially debuted on the 12-inch MacBook and the Apple Watch, and now the technology has made its way to the MacBook Pro with Retina display models and is rumoured to arrive with the next version of the iPhone.