Apple has filed a patent with the US Patent and Trademark Office for a reconfigurable keyboard wherein each key will have its own display. In this case, the key displays will display dynamically adjustable key labels for the keys. This will allow the keyboard to support different languages, temporarily convert it into a gaming keyboard, or even allow users to customize the appearance of keys. The patent was first spotted by Patently Apple. Also Read - Apple's business doubled in India; 1.5 million iPhones shipped in Q4 2020
“The user may, for example, desire to switch a keyboard between a first format (e.g., an English-language format) and a second format (e.g., a Greek-language format),” according to the patent filed by Apple. It also talks about issues with dynamic labels and why they are not very practical as the dynamic labels are often covered with thick plastic, making them difficult to view. Also Read - Apple iOS 14.4 beta: Tracking users will get tougher with this security feature
The patent also includes drawings where the keyboard is shown with a laptop, suggesting Apple will likely use the technology in its future MacBook models as well as desktop. It also suggested a possibility where key displays can be configured dynamically based on input by users or some other kind of input. Also Read - Google to stop using this Apple tool to track users' browsing activity
“The dynamic labels may be generated using dynamically reconfigurable label displaying components such as organic light-emitting diode displays with arrays of pixels, electrophoretic displays with arrays of pixels, or other pixel arrays (as examples). Configurations in which dynamic labels are presented using lower-resolution configurable output devices may also be used.”
Do note that this is just a patent and it is possible that Apple decides not to go ahead with the technology at all. Even if we do get to see it in MacBooks, it is unlikely that it will happen anytime soon. Apple files many patents and most of them never end up in commercial products at all.