Vivek Haldar

Laptops with touchscreen keyboards

I love a good keyboard. The entire reason I reach for a laptop rather than a tablet is that I need to bang out some text. Which is why I’ve been following the recent tales of woe related to the MacBook keyboard. I wonder how Apple is going to “fix” this. I also wonder if the touchbar was a teaser of what they intend to do.

Here’s what I’d like to see next in laptops: make the keyboard area a full-on touch screen. Something like the Microsoft Courier, but meant to be used in a laptop, typing-first form-factor rather than a vertical booklet form-factor.

This would get over the biggest UX complaint with the current generation of touchscreen laptops, which is that raising your arms to reach out and touch the screen is something that would tire your shoulders if you had to do it very often, and breaks from the rhythm of whatever you were typing on the keyboard.

You can project a full-touch keyboard on the screen. With some form of haptic feedback it could be made to feel halfway like a real one. But because it’s drawn on the screen, it can support all the modern features we’re used to from phone/tablet keyboards, like suggestions, swiping, and altering layout for special characters and emojis.

When not typing, you could use the entire bottom of the laptop as a touch pad. In general, for apps that use a lot of manipulation rather than typing (photo and video editing), you could get rid of the keyboard and use the entire bottom of the laptop as a gesture input area.

When learning keyboard shortcuts, they can be highlighted on the virtual keyboard.

And hopefully, you’ll never have to worry about spilling a drink on your laptop keyboard and ruining it!