A report by Patently Apple showed that Apple is working on a keyboard with a computer built into it. They reference a patent that Apple filed back in August 2020 but was only recently published by the U.S. Patent Office.
The design would be similar to Apple’s Magic Keyboard, but with a whole computer inside, meaning you would just need to connect it with a display. This is reminiscent of the Commodore 64 from the 80s which requires users to hook it up to their own display. The patent also does not show any cables, possibly hinting towards a fully wireless design. For cursor input, it could include a trackpad, but that aspect has not been confirmed yet.
Some examples point to the keyboard having a base made of thermally conductive materials such as copper, aluminium, brass, steel, and bronze. This way, the heat dissipated from the processing unit and would help prevent performance throttling.
The report stated that this was a “completely new computer device concept”, but this is far from the truth. As mentioned before, the Commodore 64 from 1982 is both a computer and keyboard. Even the Raspberry Pi 400 is a computer built into a keyboard and can be found on Shopee for RM499. Regardless of whether Apple came up with the idea, it will shake up the world if Apple releases it.
Of course, this is just a patent so we’re not guaranteed to see this in their official product line soon, but it’s interesting to take a peek at Apple’s creative process. One of the most interesting use cases for this would be with Apple’s VR/AR headset. We know that they’re working on a mixed-reality headset, and this keyboard would be the perfect accompaniment to the headset, as it only needs a display.
It’s also worth mentioning that Apple has started its own silicon, such as the Apple M1 system-on-chip. With this development, Apple was able to make their computers smaller, cooler and quieter than before. The current 2021 iMac is Apple’s thinnest yet, so it won’t be surprising for Apple to shrink the Mac further in the near future.
How much would this theoretically cost? The Magic Keyboard with Touch ID currently retails for RM549 and the Mac Mini starts at RM2,999. This product has to squeeze the Mac Mini into the footprint of a keyboard so that additional engineering would probably add to the price, but my estimated guess would be around RM4,000.
What do you think? Would you get this keyboard-computer hybrid? Do you think it’s intended to be used with the mixed-reality headset? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.
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