The Crumb-Resistant Keyboard May Be Apple’s Ultimate Technological Achievement

published Mar 19, 2018
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(Image credit: Carolyn Purnell)

I wish I could tell you that my keyboard is as fresh and clean as the day I bought it, but unfortunately I cannot. Like many people, I take my computer from home to office to Starbucks and back multiple times a day, and all those croissants generate a lot of crumbs.

Keyboards are worse than couch cushions for attracting dirt, crumbs, hairs, and other debris. Someday the archaeologists of the future are going to analyze the junk under our keyboards for clues to the dietary habits of 21st century humans, but they might lose a valuable source of data in the next few years, because Apple has filed a patent for a crumb-resistant keyboard.

According to Extra Crispy, in 2016 Apple filed a patent for something called the “Ingress Prevention for Keyboards,” which is tech-speak for “keeping stuff from getting stuck in your keyboard keys.”

When “solid contaminants” like dust, crumbs, and other bits of debris get under the keyboard, it’s more than just unsanitary and embarrassing, because those things can cause the keys to not work very well. (I once spent a solid year hitting the “T” key extra hard to make it register, before whatever cookie crumb was underneath it finally pulverized enough to blow out of the way.)

Apple is looking at a few different ways of keeping grit from getting under our keyboards. Some of the suggestions outlined in the patent include “membranes or gaskets” to keep crumbs from getting in. Others include outfitting the keys with little brushes to sweep crumbs away. My personal favorite even includes adding a tiny bellows to blast the crumbs away with forced air when you type.

Apple tends to be pretty good at innovation, so hopefully they’ll come up with something more powerful than blowing on your laptop soon, because crumbs and cat hair and other gunk make typing way more frustrating. And I’m always deeply paranoid that my keyboard crumbs will attract keyboard ants and keyboard spiders, because the only bugs worse than technological ones are the creepy crawly variety.