The role of the keys and controls are often indicated through lights, with different colours and/or under different symbols or a full-fledged touch screen.
One of the earliest touch strips were touch controls above the function key row on mid/late-00's HP laptops, backlit by blue LEDs. They included e.g. media keys, a volume bar and sometimes bass/treble bars, sometimes branded with HP's QuickPlay brand and tied to software with that name.
ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2nd-gen
The 2014 ThinkPad X1 Carbon keyboard used an "adaptive" touch-strip with a black-and-white LCD screen instead of the function key row. The Fn key was on the touch-strip and could be used to cycle between different sets of keys.
The Rapoo KX has a fixed set of symbols for function keys and media keys that are always lit by a set of bi-colour LEDs. The LEDs change colour when the Fn key is pressed, indicating the different set of functions.
The touch-bar gives feedback through vibration.
Apple 2016 MacBook Pro
Some Apple MacBook Pro models, released in fall of 2016 contains a Touch Bar instead of a function key row. The bar is a colour OLED touch screen. According to Apple, the screen was engineered to be watched at a 45° angle.
At least 63% of the middle of the bar is available for the current app. So far, different buttons and horizontal sliders have been shown.
At most 28% of the right of the bar can contain a set of permanent, supposedly configurable controls, such as for media keys.
The Esc key is at the left end but it changes legend depending on the current dialogue between e.g. "Esc", "Done", "Cancel" and a Close icon. The power button is at the right end, with an integrated fingerprint reader. The regular function keys pop up as touch keys when the Fn key is held down. They can also be configured to appear by default.
- Optimus Maximus and Optimus Popularis are keyboards with physical keys where every key has a colour screen. Optimus Popularis also has a display bar in-between the function key row and numeric row.
- Touch keyboard
- Ars Technica - Apple introduces brand-new 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros for $1,799 and $2,399. Dated 2016-10-27. Retrieved 2016-10-27
- Ars Technica - 5 hours with the 13” MacBook Pro, and how Apple’s T1 bridges ARM and Intel. Dated 2016-10-28 15.00 UTC. Retrieved 2016-10-29.