Apple has recently been leaning away from using its usual mechanical keyboard system for MacBooks for a different type. The company is now planning to use a keyboard which will still be operable with thinner laptop designs. It’ll also be more reliable than Apple’s butterfly keyboard technology too.

The U.S. tech giant currently has a patent for a keyboard which uses light instead of physical parts to detect when its pressed. Potentially, this patent’s design could further reduce the parts that go into the Apple laptops and completely ditch butterfly keyboards. However, Apple has yet to adopt this patent in any of their computer releases and laptop keyboards this 2019.

The optical keyboard patent uses light emitters and sensors instead of the usual electrical connections made when the keyboard’s buttons are pressed. Upon pressing the key, the optical keyboard’s buttons loses access to light and registers it as a press. The keyboard then locates the position of the light loss and registers it as an input for a specific character on the keyboard.

The patent further discusses how the device would look like such as using opaque keys with its own light source, The keyboard may also a little leg structure to give the feel of button actuation for users which keeps them feeling like they’ve pressed a button.

While  the whole optical keyboard design seems promising, Apple is known for passing many patents that it never makes into an actual product. For now, fans will have to wait if the next Apple MacBook, Mac, or any other device  with this technology used.

As of now, Apple’s MacBooks have relied on the butterfly keyboard technology which boasted minimal space for the keyboard. The butterfly keyboards allowed MacBooks to be slimmer than most laptops out in the market. However, Apple received many complaints as the butterfly keyboards are fragile and many owners asked for compensation.

Potentially, the butterfly keyboard technology was a step forward for Apple’s innovation but also cost the company more in the long run. With this patent, the optical keyboard could be a great replacement for the butterfly keyboards for MacBooks.