The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 13 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. This morning's first granted patent report covers a single knockout patent that has never been revealed before. The patent reveals a next generation microstrip styled cellular antenna that, according to Apple, will be used for future products such as notebooks, a wristwatch and other wearable computers and beyond. It may even be used in covert applications. Yes, another James Bond Classic invention from the Crazy Ones in Cupertino.
Apple Introduces us to the Microstrip Cellular Antenna
Apple has received a very important granted patent this morning that relates to antennas that cover one or more communications band without consuming too much space in electronic devices.
Apple first introduced us to the Telephonic Macbook in August 2010. Since then there have been four follow-up patents covering various aspects of cellular antennas in addition to the possible placement of these antennas. One covered a logo antenna while another covered a cellular antenna for a future version of Apple's wireless keyboard.
Today, Apple introduces us to the microstrip cellular antenna. One that sounds more Apple-Like than bulkier styled antenna that were previously presented in other patents. These are dual antennas capable of covering cellular and Wi-Fi frequencies.
According to Apple's documentation, the microstrip antenna could be earmarked for future wearable computers such as an iWatch or pendant and be integrated into headsets and other devices like Apple TV.
As noted above, Apple's patent FIG. 3 illustrates an antenna (10) that may be formed in the housing of a future MacBook. The antenna may be formed in any suitable portion of the housing. For example, the antenna may be formed in the top lid of laptop computer 30 (e.g., on outer surface 29 of the top lid), or may be formed as part of or adjacent to a conductive logo structure, may be formed as part of a sidewall or lower housing portion of laptop computer, etc.
Additionally, Apple's noted patent FIG. 7 is a sectional perspective end view of an illustrative microstrip antenna with shunt inductors.
While the preferred conductive housing is noted as being constructed of a very thin sheet of metal or alloy, the patent also states that other materials could be utilized such as conductive plastics, conductive ceramics or even specialized kinds of glass.
Could be used for Covert Applications
The antenna may have a slot. The slot may be suitable for integration into conductor skins (e.g., thin metal housing walls) of various platforms, and may be integrated with other electronics to form skin-like complete systems. Its small aperture (slot area) may allow the antenna to be invisible at short distances, so it may blend into its immediate environment for cosmetic or covert applications.
Apple's First Claim: An antenna comprising: first and second coplanar conductive regions that are spaced apart to form a gap, wherein the first and second coplanar conductive regions are formed from a conductive housing of electronic device computing equipment; first and second antenna terminals that are connected to the conductive regions and that form an antenna feed for the antenna; and a plurality of shunt inductors each of which bridges the gap and each of which forms an active part of the antenna, wherein the conductive housing of the electronic device computing equipment that the first and second coplanar conductive regions are formed from comprises conductive housing for a device selected from the group consisting of: a laptop computer, a cellular telephone, a desktop computer, a computer that is integrated into a computer monitor, a handheld computer, a wrist-watch device, and a media player.
Once upon a time, the traditional home phone was a stationary fixture. Now when you think of how integrated telephony will be coming to notebooks, the iMac, a future smart watch and/or TV, clothing and other devices, you know that you're quietly entering a new era of communications. As far as the "Covert application" angle goes, I don't think I'll be too open to having a cellular antenna surgically implanted under my skin any time soon. Then again, I laughed at the Europeans for being stupid enough to pay for bottled water twenty years ago and I'm now doing just that. It's amazing how time changes your perspective on things.
To review Apple's patent claims and invention detailing, see granted patent 8,044,873. Apple credits Bing Chiang, Gregory Spring, Douglas Kough, Enrique Ayala and Matthew McDonald as the inventors of this patent which was originally filed in Q2 2010.
Notice: Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of granted patents with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each Granted Patent is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any Granted Patent should be read in its entirety for full details. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.
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