The patent filing describes “a keyboard without a key for a spacebar,” which would enable Google to squeeze a laptop’s trackpad into the space normally occupied by a physical spacebar. By then allowing the top portion of the trackpad to function as a spacebar, Google could theoretically design smaller Chromebooks.
It’s an interesting way to conserve space on a laptop, and Google’s patent filing also details how the trackpad would be able to distinguish between taps or clicks meant to act as computer mouse and taps meant to represent pushing down the spacebar.
Basically, if the trackpad sensors determine that you’ve been swiping and generally using the trackpad for navigation, clicking any area of the trackpad would register as a mouse click. If the trackpad notices you’re in the middle of typing, tapping the trackpad will register as pressing the spacebar.
While it’s important to note that being awarded the patent doesn’t necessarily mean Google will incorporate this technology into its future Chromebooks, there’s been a growing trend for laptop manufacturers to shrink down the physical footprint of their devices.
Apple has already made its new MacBook smaller by squeezing its keys closer together, and Google could theoretically use this technology to create laptops with less space between the laptop’s front edge and the keyboard.
Pressing down on a trackpad instead of a physical spacebar could certainly take some getting used to. But, if Google implemented some form of haptic feedback like Apple introduced in its latest MacBook, the line between physical keys and a haptic touchpad could quickly become blurred while opening the door for slightly smaller laptops.
You can take a deeper dive into Google’s new patent by clicking here.