Last 7 days we saw Apple unveil the refreshed MacBook Professional vary with the headline characteristic being the new Touch Bar, but rival Microsoft was doing work on the strategy of context-sensitive keys in the course of the past century – albeit only just.

As The Verge spotted, back in 1999 Microsoft’s Applied Sciences Team was doing work on ‘adaptive hardware’ and generated a principle keyboard that “displays the lively action keys and hides the irrelevant keys for a offered application”.

In other words and phrases, the strategy was to intelligently swap keys dependent on the app being employed, and what the user was performing in that app, a la Apple’s new Touch Bar.

Just after the initial principle was performed close to with some seventeen decades in the past, different prototypes were labored on by way of the program of the 2000s, including morphing LED keys, and applying a camera and projector technique to job distinct styles of essential.

And then in 2009, Microsoft generated an ‘adaptive keyboard’ which highlighted a “touch-sensitive screen strip” together the prime – significantly larger sized than the OLED strip on the new MacBook Professional – and in this case, the screen continued beneath the keys, so the full keyboard was dynamic (a little bit like Apple’s rumored incoming e-ink Magic Keyboard).

As the online video underneath of Microsoft’s prototype adaptive keyboard illustrates applying PowerPoint as an example, the contact strip could be employed to navigate by way of your slide deck, and tap to insert a new slide.

Then you could tap the purpose essential with a image of a chart on it to insert a single of those people, whereupon the full keyboard improved to icons of distinct styles of chart, allowing you to visually select a single out on the keyboard.

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Touchy subject 

Granted, this is nowhere near as amazing as the Touch Bar and its slick integration with the MacBook Professional keyboard, but nevertheless it’s interesting to see that Microsoft picked up on the principle so early.

That claimed, Apple may well have experienced its very own early ideas in this office that day back some time, as very well. Who knows…

At any price, why did Microsoft make a decision to abandon the job? When asked, Steven Bathiche, who is Director of Exploration in the firm’s Applied Sciences Team, tweeted back to The Verge: “We did not make pcs back then, and when we did get started, we created pcs with touchscreens.”

So, there you have it.

Of program, it does not search like Apple will be mulling the touchscreen route with the MacBook any time soon – if ever – specifically with the news that the aforementioned reworking e-ink keyboard is supposedly coming to Apple’s notebooks the year just after next.

Through: Fortune

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