A new patent unearthed this week reveals Apple is working on refining its keyboards that will, among other things, combat crumbs and other pesky contaminants.
The patent was filed on September 8, 2016. It illustrates two methods that will eliminate contaminants from making their way to the bottom of the keys, potentially eliminating functionality problems. One figure involves sealing the bottom of the keys to shield the key mechanisms from contaminants and the other imagines a membrane that blows air as each key is pressed to remove contaminants.
According to the patent, these contaminants, such as sugar, often serve to corrode or block contact points and prevent movement by the keys.
As it stands, Apple’s new butterfly mechanism keyboards found inside its newer MacBooks don’t have the best reputation. Aside from the ultra flat design and oddly loud feedback users have complained about, their durability has also been very spotty.
TechnoBuffalo has verified the keys have a habit of sticking after a couple years of use. Apple has never confirmed the root of the issue, but it is speculated it is a result of dust getting under the keys. This happens to all keyboards—dust is a part of life—and thus the symptom has been widespread. The issue is covered under warranty, but if you are out of it, Apple charges $400 to replace the keyboard unit.
Just because Apple filed the patent doesn’t mean it will ever use. But with the issues its keyboards have been going through, it sounds like a great way to address the problem.