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Apple explores the possibility of using invisible buttons on its future laptops


Apple continues to advance its crusade in favour of reducing the (apparent) design of its computers to a minimum and now bets on a new patent that would allow a series of physical controls to be hidden in the aluminium body of the MacBook Pro making them literally invisible to the user.

Apple explores the possibility of using invisible buttons on its future laptopsApple explores the possibility of using invisible buttons on its future laptops

The idea is to take the technology currently used in the sleep indicator a step further. This consists of a series of small holes made with a laser drill that are virtually invisible when the light is off, so that the new laptops would have touch-sensitive areas where the buttons could appear or disappear as necessary.

For example, when we enter iTunes, a control wheel like the one in iPods could be drawn next to the trackpad of the laptop, allowing it to be used to control the application in a more intuitive way while respecting the company’s minimalist style by making it disappear when it is no longer useful. In addition to opening a program, other conditions that could activate these controls and indicators would be motion detection or the light sensor, greatly expanding their practical applications.

In addition, this technology can also be used to place buttons on the outside of the notebook or simply to indicate the battery charge level or Wi-Fi signal strength even when the MacBook screen is closed, allowing the user to perform tasks without opening the notebook . The patent describes, for example, buttons for activating an external display, syncing an iPod or iPhone, installing software, or turning off the computer – all without opening the lid.

No less interesting is the latest application described in the patent: its use as a replacement for the notebook trackpad , allowing you to control the cursor by sliding your finger across the very same aluminum surface of the MacBook Pro body and simplifying (even further) the fantastic design of these devices.

In the patent document, Apple says it considered other methods of concealing these controls, such as plastic buttons painted to simulate metal, but the look and finish did not exactly match that of aluminum, so it conflicted with its objectives. The text also emphasizes the aesthetic, environmental and production advantages offered by housings created from a single piece of metal, thus justifying his efforts to overcome the challenges posed by the patent.