Apple has filed a patent with the US Patent & Trademark Office that could change the way you interact with its MacBooks forever.

It is proposing taking away the physical keyboard and replacing it with a re-configurable, force-sensitive system instead.

That basically means that keys will only appear where and when you want them, using haptic feedback on a capacitive touch panel to give the impression of physical presses.

The "keys" would also only light up and appear when needed, showing through tiny perforations in the touch panels, which will be protected by another layer so moisture or dirt particles would be repelled.

While the new system would potentially make any future MacBook even thinner than it currently is, it seems the main aim of the new technology is to present customisable keyboard layouts.

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Say you only want certain buttons for a game, spaced to fit your fingers perfectly. That would be possible with this form of tech. Keys could also be resized, to aid in certain applications.

The patent also shows a conventional trackpad will still be an option.

Apple filed the patent in September last year but it has only just been published for all to see by the US Patent Office. There's no guarantees we'll see this technology on the next MacBook or, indeed, ever, as many technologies are registered with the office that never see the light of day, but this does stand out as really taking computer inputs to a whole new level.