Apple and its competition are always looking way over the horizon for what’s to come. The company is famous for filing patent applications for anything and everything it can come up with, just in case it ever uses it. Sometimes they seem interesting like a folding, dual-display laptop. Others just seem ridiculous; like an all-glass Mac Pro tower. However, its latest filing is not only interesting, but has useful real-world implications. It is for an all-new MacBook that has never-before-seen features. These include a finger-sensing system, an iPhone charger, and palm print biometrics.
The patent application was accepted, and is detailed by Patently Apple. It’s named “Device having integrated interface system” and it covers several intriguing technologies. The most sensational is a new type of “finger sensing” on the keyboard area. The application notes that typically notebooks have several methods of input, and the design is exactly that; a new form of input. This would effectively transform it into a pseudo tablet or virtual trackpad. It would let the user draw or given input by moving their fingers over the keys. It says the system will be able to detect both the location and the force of the input. This could let you add lines and curves to whatever you’re working on without a digital pencil. In the example at the top of the page, it’s seen expanding a window by dragging your fingers across the keys. This is currently done via trackpad only.
Possibly more useful than a way to insert squiggles into documents is the built-in biometric sensor. The application notes they are where the trackpad usually exists though, so maybe the finger sensors would replace the trackpad. These sensors could allow for readings of the user’s temperature, heart rate, blood-oxygen level, blood sugar sensors, and more. It notes this information can be obtained through the top-case using palm-or-wrist prints.
There’s also information about a built-in iPhone charger. This obviously isn’t super complicated and it’s exactly what it sounds like. However, if you’ve ever wonder how to say “phone charger” in patent speak, here it is. Ahem, “a wireless power transfer system configured to inductively couple with the portable electronic device [like an iPhone] to receive power from the portable electronic device through the planar top exterior surface of the base portion and to transmit power to the portable electronic device through the planar top exterior surface of the base portion.”
Related patents in the filing also show a laptop that doesn’t have a keyboard at all. Instead, there’s a second display there. This is similar to previous rumors that it’s working on a folding iPad, or some kind of hybrid iPad/MacBook. The display that goes where the keyboard is could be multi-functional, and even have a virtual keyboard. Still, the technology is very far from ready, as it is rumored to debut in 2026 at the earliest.