While Apple was undergoing their "Antennagate" moment earlier this year, Apple's engineers were long at work on a new kind of antenna which Apple dubs the "logo antenna." This new antenna is to hide behind the famous Apple logo thereby allowing it to gain a stronger signal without intervening metal or other conductive housing walls interfering. It's interesting to note that this is Apple's third telephonic Macbook related patent in the second half of 2010 and would all but confirm this is a definite trend Apple is focused on. And lastly, it should be noted that Apple foresees the logo antenna working itself down into miniatures and wearables such as wrist watches and pendants. It appears that Apple may have another winning invention on their hands.
It could be difficult to incorporate antennas successfully into an electronic device. Some electronic devices are manufactured with small form factors, so space for antennas is limited. Antenna operation could also be blocked by intervening metal structures. This could make it difficult to implement an antenna in an electronic device that contains conductive display structures, conductive housing walls, or other conductive structures that could potentially block radio-frequency signals.
Apple's solution involves logo antennas for electronic devices such as the MacBook and iPhone. The housing may contain conductive sidewalls. For example, the housing may be formed from a machined block of aluminum or other metals. The walls of the housing may be used to hold conductive components such as displays. Integrated circuits and other electronic components may be mounted within the housing.
A Dielectric Window
A logo antenna may transmit and receive radio-frequency antenna signals through a dielectric window mounted in a housing wall. The logo antenna may have an antenna resonating element structure such as a patch antenna resonating element. The dielectric antenna window may serve as a logo. The dielectric antenna window may, for example, have the shape of a logo or may contain appropriate text or other visual logo attributes.
Conductive Antenna Cavity
The logo antenna may be provided with a conductive antenna cavity. The cavity may have vertical sidewalls and a planar rear surface or may have other suitable cavity shapes. The antenna resonating element may be interposed between the dielectric antenna window and the antenna cavity. The antenna cavity may help isolate the logo antenna from the electronic components within the housing. With one suitable arrangement, the antenna cavity may be interposed between the antenna resonating element and the display, so that the rear wall of the antenna cavity lies parallel to the exposed planar face of the logo-shaped dielectric antenna window and the display.
Apple's patent FIG. 15 is a perspective view of a portion of an electronic device such as an iPhone that has a logo antenna. In FIG. 9 we see a perspective view of an illustrative antenna cavity for a logo antenna. In FIG. 10 we see is a top view of an illustrative circular dielectric antenna window for a logo antenna. In FIG. 12 we see is a top view of an illustrative logo-shaped dielectric antenna window for a logo antenna.
In Apple's patent FIG. 13 above we see a cross-sectional side view of an electronic device such as a MacBook that has a logo antenna. In FIG. 14 we see a cross-sectional side view of a portion of a portable device that has a logo antenna.
To clarify, Apple's patent confirms that logo antennas may be formed in electronic devices such as desktop computers, portable computers such as laptop computers and tablet computers and in handheld electronic devices such as cellular telephones. But they don't limit themselves to their current round of products. Apple also includes possible future ultraportable devices which they list as being netbooks, wrist-watches, pendants, headphone/earpieces and other wearable devices.
Apple's patent clarifies that the logo antenna will go beyond just Wi-Fi which is supposedly used in iMac's after 2009. The patent states that logo antennas will cover "wireless communications in cellular telephone bands such as the GSM bands at 850 MHz, 900 MHz, 1800 MHz and 1900 MHz and the 2100 MHz data band." Additionally, logo antennas will cover multibands for telephonic communications and GPS.
From patent to reality, the iPad marks Apple's second implementation of the logo antenna methodology. Moving it to other products would seem only natural. The graphic noted above came from iFixit. Thanks to Bradley Petrik for the tip.
The inventors of patent 20100321253 are noted to include Apple's Sr. Director iPhone/iPod Ruben Caballero and team members Enrique Ayala Vazquez, Gregory Springer, Bing Chiang, Douglas Kough, Robert Schlub, Yi Jiang, Angulo Gomez and Andres Rodney. The original filing was made in June 2009. Apple doesn't have to appear as the assignee until the patent has been granted.
It should also be noted that Apple's Douglas Kough, Bing Chiang, Enrique Ayala Vazquez, and Gregory Springer noted in this patent, were also part of the team that delivered a September patent that we covered under the title "Apple Wins Key Multiband Cellular Antenna Patent for MacBook +." Kough was also one of the leading engineers behind the August patent covering the telephonic MacBook.
Update: A related Apple patent application (20110050508) surfaced on March 03, 2011 covering the antenna-logo for the iMac and a tablet which we know is the iPad due to iFixit's teardown graphic that we've noted above.
Another Noteworthy Patent Published Today
Another extremely detailed patent published today explains the technology behind Apple's geolocation technology. Apple states that to submit periodic location updates to the location information server, a location-sharing mobile device has to maintain an active background process for location determination and update submission regardless of whether other devices request such up-to-date information for the location information server. Maintaining such active background process consumes power and shortens battery life significantly even if the device isn't otherwise in use. Apple's patent details their very complicated solution to this problem. Unless you're a geek who loves to eat electric bolts and circuit boards for breakfast, I don't think you'll enjoy this read. But kudos to Apple's engineers for finding yet another important solution for mobile users who love to use social netwoking apps.
Apple credits Richard Williamson, Christopher Blumenberg, Seejo Pylappan, and James Howard as the inventors of patent application 20100325194.
Notice: Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of patents with associated graphic(s) for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for further details. For additional information on any patent reviewed here today, simply feed the individual patent number(s) noted in this report into this search engine. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.
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