Apple develops new keyboard backlights
This week the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office released another pile of Apple's patent applications that reveal the company’s interest in further improving of its technology of keyboard backlights. It is said in the documents, that though current keyboards have a light feedback, for example, when the "Caps Lock" is enabled, more informative keyboards would be more beneficial for users.
"Most conventional keyboards lack the ability to convey complex information to a user (such as, for example, more information than just whether the CAPS lock key is on). And while some conventional keyboards may include backlit keys, conventional keyboards with backlighting do not offer the ability to dynamically control lighting schemes for each of the keys individually based on interaction from the user."
In other words, when user presses a modifier key like "Option" or "Command", lighting keys could show newly available functions or help him in completing tasks in specific applications.
Patent applications also describe new Apple's solution that implements more dynamic keyboard backlights with multiple colors and individually illuminated keys. An application titled "Keyboard with Increased Control of Backlit Keys" describes a model of MacBook with different illumination schemes that depend on the currently running application.
The goal can be successfully accomplished if every key of the keyboard will have an individual LED light. In that case the system would have an ability to control these lights and allow them to be colored or illuminated when it will be useful for executing a specific task in the particular app.
Another keyboard backlighting system is described in application titled "White Point Adjustment for Multicolor Keyboard Backlight" and based on the built-in light sensor in MacBook. Depending on the lighting conditions the color of the keys on the laptop could be accordingly adjusted to make them easier to see.
"A controller is electrically coupled to the light source and the light sensor and configured to determine the intensity and color of light to which the light sensor is exposed, and dynamically adjust the output of the light source to match the determined intensity and color of light to which the light sensor is exposed."
Patent application "User Interface Behaviors for Input Device with Individually Controlled Illuminated Input Elements" describes another idea about using individually lit keys that have multiple colors. Such a keyboard makes it possible to adjust the keyboard lighting if there is a need to notify its user of something or if a specific app is currently launched on the notebook.
"The request for input device lighting from the program may be based on input selections received from the input device such as illuminating keys on a keyboard that are the next possible letters in a word being typed or keys associated with a pressed command key".
All the applications revealed this week were filed in June of 2009 with the USPTO.
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