Apple Wants to Patent a Keyboard You’re Allowed to Spill Coffee On

iStock
iStock

In the future, eating and drinking near your computer keyboard might not be such a dangerous game. On March 8, Apple filed a patent application for a keyboard designed to prevent liquids, crumbs, dust, and other “contaminants” from getting inside, Dezeen reports.

Apple has previously filed several patents—including one announced on March 15—surrounding the idea of a keyless keyboard that would work more like a trackpad or a touchscreen, using force-sensitive technology instead of mechanical keys. The new anti-crumb keyboard patent that Apple filed, however, doesn't get into the specifics of how the anti-contamination keyboard would work. It isn’t a patent for a specific product the company is going to debut anytime soon, necessarily, but a patent for a future product the company hopes to develop. So it’s hard to say how this extra-clean keyboard might work—possibly because Apple hasn’t fully figured that out yet. It’s just trying to lay down the legal groundwork for it.

Here’s how the patent describes the techniques the company might use in an anti-contaminant keyboard:

"These mechanisms may include membranes or gaskets that block contaminant ingress, structures such as brushes, wipers, or flaps that block gaps around key caps; funnels, skirts, bands, or other guard structures coupled to key caps that block contaminant ingress into and/or direct containments away from areas under the key caps; bellows that blast contaminants with forced gas out from around the key caps, into cavities in a substrate of the keyboard, and so on; and/or various active or passive mechanisms that drive containments away from the keyboard and/or prevent and/or alleviate containment ingress into and/or through the keyboard."

Thanks to a change in copyright law in 2011, the U.S. now gives ownership of an idea to the person who first files for a patent, not the person with the first working prototype. Apple is especially dogged about applying for patents, filing plenty of patents each year that never amount to much.

Still, they do reveal what the company is focusing on, like foldable phones (the subject of multiple patents in recent years) and even pizza boxes for its corporate cafeteria. Filing a lot of patents allows companies like Apple to claim the rights to intellectual property for technology the company is working on, even when there's no specific invention yet.

As The New York Times explained in 2012, “patent applications often try to encompass every potential aspect of a new technology,” rather than a specific approach. (This allows brands to sue competitors if they come out with something similar, as Apple has done with Samsung, HTC, and other companies over designs the company views as ripping off iPhone technology.)

That means it could be a while before we see a coffee-proof keyboard from Apple, if the company comes out with one at all. But we can dream.

[h/t Dezeen]

This Ingenious Hanger Makes Hanging Pants a Breeze, No Clips or Folds Required

Hurdle Hanger
Hurdle Hanger

Get ready to clean out your closet. No, we don’t mean going all Marie Kondo on your clothes. There’s a new type of clothes hanger that promises to change the way you store your clothes, taking the headache out of hanging up your pants.

The Hurdle Hanger, which has currently raised more than $33,000 on Kickstarter, calls itself the “one-second pants hanger.” Rather than relying on cumbersome clips or requiring bulky folding techniques, the hanger design employs one very simple change: It hooks into the belt loops of your pants.

The angular hanger is open on one side so that you can slide the bar through the belt loops of your pants, letting you secure your pants in one smooth motion rather than struggling with the pant clips that will just wrinkle your waistband anyway.

A person slides the Hurdle Hanger through the belt loops of a pants to hang them.
Hurdle Hanger

Just slide the hanger bar through the belt loop (or loops) farthest from you, then hang the belt loop closest to you from the hook. There is another hook midway across the bar that secures the middle belt loop, keeping your pants from drooping while they hang. In another subtle touch, you can use the same hook to hang smaller items, like belts or hats, off the side.

The Hurdle Hanger is an example of smart design at its finest—the kind of idea that, when you see it in action, makes you think, “Wait, how did no one think of this before?” It takes a once-cumbersome task and makes it seamless, eliminating at least some of the burden that may be keeping you from accomplishing the chore of hanging up your clothes. No more messing with clips or trying to shove pants through the cramped hole in the hanger to fold them over.

There are already open-end pants hangers that make it easier to slide a folded pair of slacks into your closet, but the belt loop hooks take the Hurdle Hanger to another level. You might even get inspired enough to start hanging your jeans.

A 10-pack of hangers is $20 on Kickstarter—though anything that makes you actively excited to organize your closet is priceless.

Finally: These Women’s Jeans Are Designed With Pockets Deep Enough to Actually Hold Your Stuff

Radian Jeans
Radian Jeans

An investigation last year revealed what half the population has known for a while: Women’s pockets really are smaller than men’s. About 48 percent shorter and 6.5 percent narrower, to be precise.

This has long been a sore spot among women who would rather not lug around an oversized purse all day. While many of the top fashion labels are still making jeans with teeny, tiny pockets, a few entrepreneurs are giving the people what they want.

One such option, Radian Jeans, is now available for preorder on Kickstarter. These ultra-stretchy jeans come in two styles (skinny and straight fit), four colors (indigo, light blue, black, and white), and nine sizes (0 to 16). Best of all, the patent-pending pockets are big enough to fit your entire hand or phone inside, yet subtle enough to conceal the bulge. There are also interior flaps designed to prevent the contents of your back pockets from spilling out onto the sidewalk, or worse, into the toilet.

A pair of Radian Jeans with diagrams showing what can fit in the pants' front pockets
Radian Jeans

The jeans were designed by a husband and wife who both decided to pursue an education at MIT. Ahmed Malik is a current student at MIT’s Advanced Functional Fabrics of America’s Entrepreneurship Program, and his wife, Wardah, graduated with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science.

This technical know-how came in handy when they decided to make the jeans stain-resistant and temperature-regulated. In particular, a nanotechnology-based fabric treatment was applied to the white jeans to help repel stains. So if you’re the type of person who constantly spills wine or drops spaghetti sauce onto your lap, these may be the jeans for you.

A woman models Radian jeans
Radian Jeans

In addition, some of the jeans are outfitted with COOLMAX All Season Technology, which provides insulation on cold days and redirects moisture away from your body on hot days. As a finishing touch, a floral print on the pant leg interior lets you make a style statement by cuffing your jeans.

To snag a pair for $69, check out the Kickstarter page. Tailor-made sizes are also available for a more personalized fit.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER