Apple has filed a patent application with the US Patent And Trademark Office for what is a new Force Sensor and Coplanar Display for computing devices. Simply put, this is for upgrading the Touch Bar in the MacBook Pro line-up with a Force Touch feature that will allow you to execute different actions based on the force and pressure of the touch at the time. The Force Touch technology was introduced in MacBook trackpads back in 2015, when the physical buttons were eliminated in favour of different touch pressures to execute different gestures. At this time, the MacBook Pro 13 and the MacBook Pro 16 offer the Touch Bar which sits above the keyboard.
In the patent application now published, Apple says this will “generally relate to electronic devices, and particularly electronic devices having a display with a force sensor positioned at least partially around, and coplanar with, the display.” The patent goes on to describe how the secondary display in the computing devices is both touch and force sensitive and further has its force-sensing circuitry in-plane with the display. The timing for this patent is quite interesting. There is expectation that with the Apple M-series chip upgrades marking the switch away from Intel, next year’s MacBook Pro 16 and the rumored MacBook Pro 14 could get the new version of the Touch Bar. This could mean you could not only execute different commands or open sub-menus based on the pressure you apply with the touch gesture, or could enable a setting to not allow accidental touches of the Touch Bar based on lighter touch.