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]

You Can Rent a ‘Lisa Frank Flat’ in Los Angeles on Hotels.com

Hotels.com
Hotels.com

If you went to elementary school in the 1980s or 1990s, chances are there was at least one piece of Lisa Frank gear in your classroom. The artist's aesthetic helped define the decades, and wide-eyed, technicolor animals still hold a special place in the hearts of millennials. Now, you can live out your childhood dream of having a room that looks like the inside of your 3rd grade backpack: a penthouse suite inspired by Lisa Frank is now available to book in Los Angeles.

The Lisa Frank Flat, a collaboration between Lisa Frank and Hotels.com, screams nostalgia. Each room pays homage to the settings and characters in the artist's vast catalog. The bathroom is painted to look like an underwater paradise, with shimmering dolphins swimming in a pink and blue sea. The kitchen is stocked with snacks from your childhood—like Gushers, Pop-Tarts, Pixy Stix, and Planters Cheez Balls—and painted in bright, rainbow animal patterns that will reflect how you feel when your sugar rush peaks.

Lisa Frank bathroom.
Hotels.com

Lisa Frank kitchen.
Hotels.com

In the bedroom, the colors are toned down only slightly. A light-up cloud canopy and a rainbow sky mural create a soothing environment for falling asleep. And if seeing Lisa Frank around every corner makes you feel inspired, there's a place for you to get in touch with your inner pop artist. The desk comes supplied with pencils, folders, and a notebook—all branded with Lisa Frank artwork, naturally.

Lisa Frank bedroom.
Hotels.com

Lisa Frank desk.
Hotels.com

Interested in basking in the glow of your childhood hero for a night? Online reservations for the Lisa Frank Flat at Barsala in downtown Los Angeles will be available through Hotels.com starting October 11 and lasting through October 27. You can book your stay for $199 a night—just don't forget to pack your Trapper Keeper.

English Couple Is Growing Chairs, Lamps, and Tables at Their ‘Furniture Farm’ in Derbyshire

Full Grown Ltd.
Full Grown Ltd.

You don't need woodworking skills to craft fine furniture from scratch. As one couple from England proved, all you need is a green thumb. Instead of carving their tables and chairs using lumber, the proprietors of Full Grown farm in Derbyshire sculpt live trees into furniture pieces as they grow, Reuters reports.

Gavin and Alice Munro planted the trees that would become their first furniture materials about a decade ago. By manipulating trees' growth and coercing new shoots to go in different directions, they were able to shape them like sculptures—ones that take years to complete. "It was inspired by seeing an overgrown bonsai tree that looked a little like a throne," the Munros told Mental Floss in an email. They were also inspired by Gavin's experience wearing metal back braces as a child to straighten his curved spine.

"Grown" wood chair.
Full Grown Ltd.

The method has been used to grow chairs, lamps, and tables. The pieces are just as functional as regular furniture, and the unique manufacturing style makes for a beautiful, one-of-kind design. But the main goal of the furniture farm is sustainability. Conventional furniture is often made from wood that's been logged and carved into smaller pieces. This produces a lot of waste and carbon emissions. The Munros' streamlined process aims to be an ultra-efficient alternative.

"Grown" wood lamp.
Full Grown Ltd.

Tree sculpting, or "zen 3D printing" as Gavin described it to Reuters, will likely never replace mass furniture production. Every piece of furniture requires a lot of time and labor to craft. For a chair, expect a six to nine-year growing period and another year for it to dry out. Full Grown's chair commissions are currently booked through 2030, but if you're willing to settle for a ready-for-sale item, the next chairs and lamp are set to be harvested sometime in 2022 or 2023. Just be ready to pay around $12,500 and up to $2800 for a lamp. Table prices vary the most, ranging from $3100 to $15,600. Eventually, the Munros hope to expand their operation and make the products a little more accessible. "Once we can get our Furniture Orchard having regular harvests then we can begin to plan a whole farm and start some larger scale experiments in production and ecosystem design," they said.

You can get a behind-the-scenes look at their process in the video below.

[h/t Reuters]

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