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Apple Technology

Apple Patents Keyboard That Knows What You'll Type 132

Posted by samzenpus
from the future-board dept.
fysdt writes "Another day, another patent, this one from Apple for a very curious sort of keyboard that might be easier to type on because it'll know in advance which keys your fingertips want to hit. No, not a device built by Emmett 'Doc' Brown (as far as we know, anyway), or pulled back through time in a TARDIS—just a very special type of board with tiny inbuilt tactile sensors capable of detecting what your spider-formation fingers are about to tap before they actually do."
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Apple Patents Keyboard That Knows What You'll Type

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  • Errr... (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, 2011 @12:42PM (#36108612)

    It detects fingers on keys before you press the key.

    Thats like predicting which way a car will turn at a junction by looking at it's indicator lights.

    • Re:Errr... (Score:5, Funny)

      by kat_skan (5219) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @01:08PM (#36108968)

      That's the nice thing about Apple products though. If they don't do what you wanted, you can safely assume that what you wanted was just wrong.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by cpu6502 (1960974)

        >>>If they don't do what you wanted, you can safely assume that what you wanted was just wrong.

        I want 10.6 and 10.7 for my Mac G5.
        "NO." - Steve
        I'm sorry sir. Please forgive me. I'm happy to junk the G5 and upgrade to the current model.

        This "Air Keyboard" reminds of the Atari Chiclet keyboard for some reason: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_8-bit_family [wikipedia.org]

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          I'm sorry sir. Please forgive me. I'm happy to junk the G5 and upgrade to the current model.

          As the happy owner of a G5, I'm not sure what you are going on about. The thing is at least 5 years old now (mine is going on 7), and they kept selling updated software for it for several years, and they continue to update 10.5 - the last version to run on it. I'd love it if they would support old hardware forever, but let's be realistic. Even Mozilla and Adobe have abandoned G5, which to me is far worse.

          In any case, I'm a counter to you I guess - I am generally quite happy if I can get 7 useful years out o

    • by Lead Butthead (321013) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @01:14PM (#36109056) Journal

      Quoting the immortal words of Montgomery "Scotty" Scott: "The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain."
      A keyboard should be just that, a keyboard. All other stuff in this patent is just overthinking the plumbing.

      • Realistically, it'll never make it into a product. All they're doing, then, is patenting new ways to make drains that stop up. This is good for society, since no one will ever design such a drain, much less try to sell it, if Apple's already patented it. Think of the patent system as a giant mop, in this case.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Yep, the keyboards we have now are perfect, and there's no reason to incrementally improve them. Why, when it comes time to use something better, it'll be okay that it's completely different because we'll all just jump to that en-masse. I mean, what, is some totally new input system going to have unforeseen consequences? Hah! That'll be the day!

        • We don't need a newer, better kind of keyboard. We need an older, better kind of keyboard! [wikipedia.org]

          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            We don't need a newer, better kind of keyboard. We need an older, better kind of keyboard!

            I've never understood the appeal of the Model M. Sure it's loud and clacky, but that seems to be a negative more than a positive.

            After all, if you're in a cube farm, someone typing rapdily would sound like machinegun fire, making an already miserable work environment even worse.

            And at home, well, using them at night discreetly is just as hard. Good perhaps for parents of kids to put on the kid's PC (and the shared one)

            • It looks like the big thing going for the model M is durability.

              • That, and the tactile/auditory feedback. When you've pressed a key, you KNOW you've pressed a key.

            • by bughunter (10093)

              I've never understood the appeal of the Model M.

              Then you've never used one to perform many kilocharacters of data entry by touch typing... The keys' springiness and tactile feed back makes it a superior high-volume input for a speed typist.

              And there is also the nostalgia, granted. But there really has been no other keyboard tech that provides the same clear, unmistakeable confirmation that yes, your key was pressed.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by LeonPierre (305002)

            Oh god, not this again.

            http://pckeyboards.stores.yahoo.net/keyboards.html [yahoo.net]

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Part No. 1391409
            Id No 1670863
            Date: 18AUG1989

            In continuous use since 1993
            Great condition, all keys, all letters clear and unworn (some tiny greying edges on some)
            small mod: drainage holes carefully drilled in casing (it's one fault)

            Never killed anyone with it, but good to know I could.

          • I have a Compact Cherry Mechanical Switch Mac Keyboard (SMK-88) [amazon.com]. It has buckling springs with the same "sound and feel" as the old IBM keyboards (which were indeed my favorite for a long time). The narrow layout (without numeric keypad) allows you to put your mousepad or pen tablet more directly in front of you, reducing RSI. It's also good for fitting all the input devices into a narrow kneewell below and old-fashioned desk.

            I was pretty happy with the Cherry keyboard for a year or two, but the loud clic
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by gnick (1211984)

        It's like the old "build-a-better-mouse-trap" analogy. Sure, you can make it re-usable. You can make it more humane. You can make it with blinkin-lights. But, all we want is something cheap that we can throw peanut butter on, kills the mouse, and we can throw away w/o getting our hands dirty. About the only improvements for keyboards are making the keys softer/quieter, more comfortable, or rearranging them. Does my chair need to react when my bum's about to land?

        • Does my chair need to react when my bum's about to land?

          I imagine that would depend on the size of you and your ass... :-)

        • About the only improvements for keyboards are making the keys softer/quieter...

          Talk about your misfeatures...

      • Quoting the immortal words of Montgomery "Scotty" Scott:

        "Keyboard... how quaint."

    • Re:Errr... (Score:4, Funny)

      by shadowfaxcrx (1736978) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @01:19PM (#36109122)

      asdfjk;asdjk;lasdfjk;ladsfjk;lSo what happens if you rest your fingers on the keys between typing?asdfjkl;asdfjklasdfjkl;

      • Now if that keyboard attain self awareness, it would start up the notepad (well, OSX equivalent anyways) and key in "you're jerking me around. stop it, you jerk."

    • by dimeglio (456244)

      If processors can have execution prediction, why not keyboards?

      • by jpapon (1877296)
        Because there's a human in the loop with keyboards; this is not the case for a processor, except in the very rare case (in terms of the processors time scale) that the user affects what is arriving at the processor. For your analogy to work, a human would have to be inputting each command individually to the processor... and the human would have to correct the processor each time it made a false prediction too.
        • by dimeglio (456244)

          Although the scale might be different, humans pay in performance when a processor does not predicting correctly. Same goes for the keyboard.

          Also, there's always a human in the loop. Unless you are referring to artificial life forms.

    • This'll feet your be somehow use fill. It actuarily pickaxe the current word mast of the tines.

    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      "It detects fingers on keys before you press the key."

      Both my fingers?

    • by ikeman32 (1333971)

      Thats like predicting which way a car will turn at a junction by looking at it's indicator lights.

      That can only end badly, one should never assume that just because someone has their turn signal on that they will actually tune. That would be like assuming that a politician actually has your best interests at heart, and is not actually a low-life back stabbing POS that will say anything to get your vote.

  • epically inept word suggestions from my T9 phone, this will produce some awesomely funny posts.
  • Great! (Score:5, Funny)

    by DWMorse (1816016) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @12:43PM (#36108636) Homepage

    I hop it work breaded than predictive testing.
    __
    Sent from my iPhone

    • by kehren77 (814078)

      I seem to be the only person who doesn't have this problem with the iPhone. Rarely does the predictive typing feature mess up a word for me and when it does, it's because the word I'm entering isn't really a word (proper name, tech jargon, etc...).

      I wish the Mail app in OS X had predictive typing.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        That's because you have nothing original to say.

    • What Apple didn't say is it saves all those future keystrokes in a hidden database that syncs up with your iPhone.

    • Seems perfectly cromulent to me.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The poster bought one of these and I took it upon myself to go back in time and post this for him before he thought to type it.

    You're welcome.

  • "The Red Ball" because it can predict murders.
  • Would you ever have to take your fingers off home row?

    I tried pretending my work keyboard would do this. Just made minute movements with my fingers. It actually made me nauseous. Weird...

  • Does this mean that resting your fingers on the home row would be equivalent to mashing down on the keyboard?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://www.theonion.com/video/apple-introduces-revolutionary-new-laptop-with-no,14299/

  • ... when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.
  • I prefer me knowing what I typed. Which is why I use a Man's keyboard An IBM type M. I might not always type, but when I do it is on a Model M.

    • by cosm (1072588)

      I prefer me knowing what I typed. Which is why I use a Man's keyboard An IBM type M. I might not always type, but when I do it is on a Model M.

      You roll without a display device too? Damn! I at least like to see my monkey-phalanges attempting a Shakespeare.

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        I often type while looking at something else. I typed this whole comment while talking to someone in my office.

  • And so you're going to tell us that this will revolutionize everything now, right? And what a visionary Steve Jobs is? And how Apple is the only company capable of being innovative these days? And the stock price... Got it. Thanks.
  • Instead of Damn You Autocorrect, we will have a new site called Damn You Precognitive Keyboard!
    • Instead of Damn You Autocorrect, we will have a new site called Damn You Precognitive Keyboard!

      No, it would be called the "You will be Damned" precognitive keyboard.

  • Scotty: Hello, computer.
    Dr. Nichols: Just use the keyboard.
    Scotty: Keyboard. How quaint.

  • In other words

    Apple to fanbois: "we know what yo want to do with your fingers"

    • by bughunter (10093)

      If they really knew, then they'd make an input device that resembled a pair of breasteses.

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @01:01PM (#36108896)

    I don't see how a little blast of air is going to help me type -- and having the key move by itself when I press it seems like it would remove the tactile feel that lets me know that I pressed it -- if I wanted an on-screen keyboard with no tactile feel, I'd use one. I use a real keyboard because my fingers like to know when they press a key.

    Unless key prediction gets *much* better than what I've seen on my phone, it seems that I'd quickly learn to ignore any hints given by the keyboard since more times than not, it would be wrong.

    • by sammyF70 (1154563)
      You might be on to something with that : "This iPhone virtual keyboard provides EXACTLY the same experience and amount of tactile feedback as the iThink4U Precog Keyboard!" .. I wish I were joking.
    • by Altus (1034)

      Of course mechanical feedback is nice, but the idea here, I suspect, is to be able to have tactile feedback that is as effective as mechanical feedback but in a package that is far far smaller. the thinner keyboards get the less mechanical feedback you get from them and the smaller devices get the smaller their keyboard have to be. This isn't to make keyboards better... its to make them smaller without making them suck more. Theoretically this might give good tactile feedback on keyboard that is simply a

      • by dwillden (521345)
        Unless you've had too much caffeine that morning. They the shaking of your over caffeinated hands may cause issues with accuracy. It'll pick the right key bbbbbuuuuttttt hhhhhiiiiitttt every letter multiple times.
      • by danlock4 (1026420)

        It seems more to me (from having read the summary) like this would benefit the typing speed of hunt-and-peck typists and detract from the typing speed--slow down--touch-typists. *shrug*

        I wonder if it could be a way to improve keyboarding skills for programmers, etc., by using macros more efficiently? Hmm...

        I think I'll go change my .sig to "Why do I always add a slightly-OT sentence to the end of my posts?" (to increase insightfulness? informative status? or maybe it's just the way my brain fails)

    • Unless key prediction gets *much* better than what I've seen on my phone, it seems that I'd quickly learn to ignore any hints given by the keyboard since more times than not, it would be wrong.

      I shared your opinion until recently, so I was surprised to see how much better prediction has gotten with alternative keyboards on my Android device. SwiftKey is all about prediction, and it learns quite quickly. It has a decent training set right out of the box, but a week later it's night & day.

      Swype isn't as sophisticated as SwiftKey with next-word prediction, but the idea of tracing in lieu of keystrokes is great. The first beta was almost unusable, but after trying beta 2, I switched and I'll p

      • by matfud (464184)

        Perhaps for use at home voice recognition would work. but in an office? Loads of people talking at their computers? A very noisy environment. Are you sure that is a good idea?

        • Yeah, it's definitely better for private atmospheres. Although in *my* office it's not a problem; I work for a startup with a one-big-room office, and everyone wears headphones all day anyway.
  • by alispguru (72689) <<bane> <at> <gst.com>> on Thursday May 12, 2011 @01:03PM (#36108912) Journal

    Keyboards are electromechanical nightmares anyway, so there would have to be a BIG advantage to anything that made them more mechanically complex.

    Consider that the failure modes on this would make individual keys have different sensitivity when typing.

    Bleah. Count me out until they've had a few years in harsh environments.

    BTW, here [appleinsider.com] is another link to a similar story - the submission seems slashdotted as I type this.

    • by rich3rd (559032)

      On the upside, maybe the compressed air will keep crumbs and other foreign matter out from underneath the keys, thus helping to prevent one of the most common modes of failure with existing keyboard technology.

  • from any other predictive keyboard out there?

    A: It has an apple on it.
  • And your text will be reviewed to determine its worthiness. Also, Apple keeps 30% of your words.
  • by bradgoodman (964302) on Thursday May 12, 2011 @01:09PM (#36108976) Homepage
    Oh, come ON! The last thing we need is my work PC doing the same kind of auto-correct nonsense that my iPhone does! You really need it on an iPhone where typing is cumbersome, however, I believe this would slow you DOWN on a PC. The reason is, typing becomes quick, intuitive and "muscle-memory" driven. To have to react to the computer (or keyboard) doing things for you as you are in the middle of typing a word would completely - not just slow you down - sort of throw a stumbling block in front of you. Granted, you could ignore it, or deal with it after the word is done - however, this wouldn't be any better than turning it off - or doing what spell-correction does today.
    • by Xyde (415798)

      This feature actually exists already in Lion and i believe it has corrected more mistakes than mistaken my corrects. You can selectively enable/disable it for any text field anyway so its optional...

  • I fail to see how where you fingers hover could have any correlation to what you might be about to type. If you're in a proper position for typing your fingers are always going to be resting on a set range of keys. Also, people routinely type too quickly for this to be effective.

    I suppose the people at Apple might have simply been brainstorming and just patent any idea that shows the vaguest hint of potential.

    What surprises me is that predictive text hasn't been coupled with full-size keyboards. I imagine i

  • This part threw me off: 'The second method involves a pneumatic (that would be "air-related") system' So they expect people who can understand the diagram and are willing to read up on a recently patented device to not know what "pneumatic" means. I'd be very interested to know what their target audience is.
  • Wouldn't this method require everyone to be a practiced touch-typist? I mean, in order for the keyboard to predict where your fingers are going, wouldn't YOU have to know where your fingers are going? Too many people these days hunt and peck. Obviously there are people who scrape the letters off their Dvorak Simplified keyboards just to screw with others, but I imagine people interested in Apple products might not be so disciplined. Especially if those same people have gotten used to typing on an iPhone
    • Obviously there are people who scrape the letters off their Dvorak Simplified keyboards just to screw with others.

      Actually, I just set the OS keyboard layout to Dvorak and type on it without looking at the keys...

      Additionally, I do own a keyboard with no key-cap markings, but I purchased it this way... [daskeyboard.com]

      I find that people are more confused if the key they press has a differently labeled key than the character it generates than if the keyboard has no key-cap markings at all.

      (Most keyboards have keys that can be popped off and re-arranged to your preferred layout, but some keyboards mount the F and J keys differently

  • But it doesn't know what you are going to type in advance, just when your finger tips are close to the keys you want to physically depress. It then sends back air pressure as a tactile response. There, did that sound as confusing as the original post?
  • by nomadic (141991)
    Great, but it will probably predict it will probably be programmed to predict what the typical Apple user will type: "Let's hit up The Levee for PBRs" "OMG that guy totally almost hit my Vespa" "Dude we should hit up that Animal Collective show next Saturday" "Dad, I really need that $2000 for rent as soon as possible" "Of course I have a career, I'm an unpaid intern at an indie music label"
  • damnyouautokeyboard.com
  • This kind of thing has been out there since, well for years now in desktop apps. So why the patent now, isn't it obvious, or are they going to try and go after google/android and all the other web sites and applications that use this feature.
    • by Altus (1034)

      No. No it is not. In fact, I can safely say that I have never seen a keyborad that does what this article describes and I suspect you haven't either.

  • II''mm uussiinngg iitt nnooww..

  • I was trying to write a brilliantly thoughtful and original paper, but my keyboard wouldn't let me....

  • ...the Decabet: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRtyBBiyYhI [youtube.com] . 10 characters = fewer keys = fewer keystroke errors.

    Actually we could make it simpler and enter things in binary, so we'd only need two keys: 0 and 1.

    Or maybe cycle through a conventional alphabet with two keys: "Next Character" and "Yeah, That One"....

  • I just patented a keyboard that types what you mean.

  • What I WANT to type, and what I SHOULD type, are two radically different things.

  • Seriously, what is the point of this? You don't WANT software responding to what it thinks you're going to do, you want it responding to what you actually do. I (and many others, I'm sure) tend to rest their fingers on the keys when not actively typing - if the keyboard were to detect that as input typing would become impossible.

    And don't even think about applying it to gaming. First, there's the fact that if it mis-guesses, you're screwed on any sort of twitch shooter, platformer or fighting game. Secon
  • by maucer (1162541)
    All I know is that I want one. Especially if it has 3G
  • New patent.
    "detecting position of hands" with "hands"

    I propose something.

    If a patent can be described in a single phrase, It is automatically canceled.

    If a patent can be described in a single phrase, It is automatically canceled with the form X with Y. And CEO of the company is jailed 30 days.

  • just a very special type of board with tiny inbuilt tactile sensors capable of detecting what your spider-formation fingers are about to tap before they actually do

    Because what could possibly be annoying about hardware-level autocompletion!

  • already does that :D
  • Apple keyboards already have this predictive typing. It would explain the Apple "fan" sites and compliments Apple gets on its products.To start my explanation, i want to say I'm on a Windows PC with non-mac keyboard so its pure WITIWIG (What i type is what i get).

    You see, when an Apple user really wants to write:
    "Apple sucks so much that I want to give Steve Jobs the finger, he sucks, all Apple products suck. ROT IN HELL APPLE!!!!!"

    What actually shows up on the screen is:
    "Apple is super so much that I want

  • It doesn't have to even make it to production. Its just another patent in Apples portfolio, for future exploitation and/or patent trolling and lawsuits.
  • Hot grits, first post, goatse, in Soviet Russia, Linux runs you, all in 4 keystrokes!

  • mechanical.. I'll buy one in a second if they use cherry switches.

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