Apple was granted two technology patents in August/November of last year outlining the concept of a glass trackpad to be introduced on MacBook models in the future. At CES 2023, the glass trackpad described in Apple’s patents has been initially implemented on LG’s latest Gram series notebooks.
Apple outlined a bendable glass touch panel in a previous patent. As shown in Figure FIG. 2A below, the touch panel is briefly described as having access to a force-input/tactile-output interface. More specifically, Apple notes that the force input/tactile output interface #1200 also includes a tactile actuator #1214, which can contain a piezoelectric element. Using this configuration, the actuation of the force sensor introduces a bending moment into the support structure to produce a haptic output through the outer surface.
Above, FIG. 3 outlines a layer of glass design where the new force input/haptic output actuators could be distributed across the entire width of a future MacBook, which would reduce the thickness of the MacBook while eliminating the dedicated traditional trackpad area.
LG has introduced a very cool feature on the latest Gram series notebooks: hidden trackpads. When the user places their finger on the trackpad area, lights under the glass light up to show the trackpad area rendered in the video clip. This is definitely a possible feature of the glass MacBook in order to give it a clean design.
With Apple’s engineering team working on a possible future glass MacBook, seeing the LG Gram introduce a hidden trackpad feature makes the possibility of a future glass MacBook even more plausible. It confirms that glass could be an emerging trend in PCs and laptops, and Apple is at the top of that trend.