While a removable key that can be used as a computer mouse sounds weird, it seems Apple might be working on this very concept. In the recent past, the Cupertino-based tech giant has received a lot of patents. For instance, the company recently received a patent where it describes multiple ways to fit all the processing components of a Mac into a keyboard. The design has some practical benefits, but it is highly unlikely that users will see this product in the market any time soon.
In February 2022, Apple patented a new type of sunroof for a car. The patent describes an adjustable tinting system that enables the pilot to set the amount of sunlight that enters a car. There is another Apple patent that describes how an iPhone can create the bobblehead image of its owner. It could then be used to generate 3D avatars for Apple’s mixed reality headset and perhaps in the metaverse.
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Apple has reportedly been working on a foldable iPhone and a mixed reality headset, and a new patent now suggests that the company could also be working on a removable key that acts as a mouse. The patent was filed by Apple with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (via Patently Apple) back in February 2020, and has now been officially granted. It is titled “Deployable key mouse” and explains how a single key or a set of keys in a keyboard can be removed from their housing and used as a joystick, pointing stick, or a mouse.
Use Cases Of A ‘Deployable Key Mouse’
As the patent explains, the removable key can have two applications. It can be used as a regular key that can be pressed to provide a defined input, like normal keys on a MacBook or an Apple Keyboard. However, the second application involves using the key as a “computer pointing device using the position sensor.” In other words, users can remove this key from its place on the keyboard and use it as a mouse that provides inputs via clicks and movement. It would do so with the help of sensors. The patent adds that the removable key allows “comfortable, portable, and precise pointer input for a computer input system.”
If this design actually makes it to production, it could be a revolutionary product for the many people who use a mouse with their MacBook or iMac. Since the patent talks about a removable key that contains a computer input device, this design can be used for both MacBooks and iMacs that come with an external keyboard and mouse. It is worth mentioning that companies apply for a lot of patents, but only a few actually make it to production. While that could be the case with this key mouse, it would be useful for Apple MacBook and iMac users if it hits the shelves.