The patent details two different methodologies by which a keyboard would be able to keep out dirt, which is generally the culprit when dealing with sticky keys. The new keyboards would either seal gaps altogether, or feature a membrane underneath each key that would “blow out air every time a key is pressed,” as per a report from The Verge. This blowing action would help expel any dust, and hopefully, keep your keyboard working as it was meant to be.
Initially filed in September 8, 2016, the patent has certainly been around for quite some time, though it clearly has yet to be implemented. Folks with the latest MacBook Pro models have noted that their keys regularly get stuck, and while older models were easier to clean, these newer computers are a bit more difficult to address without the help of an expert. The problem, of course, is that in an attempt to make the new MacBooks thinner than ever, there are just a few millimeters of space between the pressed and unpressed state of the new keys. Indeed, Apple has taken to replacing quite a few of these computers that are under warranty, so pervasive is the issue.
In any case, the patent suggests that Apple is looking into several options when it comes to creating a keyboard that doesn’t stick quite as often. The company admits in the patent that the keys are susceptible to damage by both liquid and solid particles, and notes specifically that “residues from such liquids, such as sugar, may corrode or block electrical contacts [and] prevent key movement by bonding moving parts.”
But don’t get too excited by the existence of the patent — just because there’s an idea for technology doesn’t mean that it’ll ever come to fruition.