Microsoft has applied for a patent on a new type of physical keyboard that could actually display different key icons depending on how you’re using it.
For instance, if you’re playing a game, the center row of buttons could show buttons for firing, moving, jumping, and so on instead of letters. When you’re composing an email, the letters would re-appear.
The patent also covers touch-sensitive keys, which let you change the function of a key with a gesture. For instance, you may be able to capitalize a letter by dragging up so that a “q” becomes a “Q.” Maybe it’s just me, but I suspect pressing Shift+Q would probably still be faster and easier, but it’s nice to see someone thinking about new innovations in the keyboard space.
GoRumors reports that Microsoft filed its patent application about a year and a half ago, but it was only made public today.
Update: Mystery solved? It looks like this patent probably covers the new “Adaptive Keyboard,” from Microsoft.