A recently discovered patent application from Apple shows that Apple is exploring some interesting ideas with respect to keyboard design. Acknowledging that tactile feedback becomes less prominent as keyboards become smaller and thinner, the patent in question describes a mechanism by which users would be able to feel the keys before actually striking them via the use of air vents on the keys working in conjunction with proximity sensors.
In some systems, feedback is provided before actual contact with the key expelling air from the input device proximate the key when user selection is imminent. In other examples, the tactile sensation results from automatic movement of the key in response to detected user selection of the key.
The patent is credited Apple engineers Aleksandar Pance, Michael Sinclair and Brett Bilbrey.
The entire patent can be read in its entirety here.