On May 30, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a new manufacturing process relating to precision display setting on devices like an iMac, iPhone, iPod or Television. For those of you who happen to love industrial design and its associated processes as much as Apple's Jony Ive does, you'll appreciate Apple's latest invention. The second invention that we briefly touch on in our report relates to Apple's work on a 3D cursor. Considering that Tim Cook stated that a new Mac Pro would be coming to market later this year, perhaps we'll see this new feature pop up. Then again, don't count on logic being a guide for the timing of any Apple invention.
Apple's Patent Background
Sophisticated computers, terminals, televisions, and other devices that utilize display screens are developing at a rapid rate. In such competitive markets with many brands and providers, there is an ever-present demand for improved and/or distinguished appearances, functionalities, and aesthetics in the newest computers and other similar devices. One area that continually receives great attention for improved and distinguished appearances in such devices involves visual outputs, which can include display screens, lights and other variable visual indicators. As consumer products grow more complex with greater capabilities, and with so many providers and competing products to choose from, however, it becomes increasingly difficult to provide products having display screens that are distinguished and eye-catching, yet uncluttered and aesthetically pleasing.
One particular example of a distinguished and aesthetically pleasing large display screen presentation can be found with respect to the iMac. In this display presentation, a large display screen is secured within a computer housing having a back, bottom, relatively thin sides and top, and a large opening in the front that comprises over 75% of the frontal area. A display cover glass is positioned into and held in place in a set-back recess in the frontal opening area of the computer housing specifically designed to secure the cover glass. An inked mask around the display cover glass edge, rounded housing corners and a metallic finish augment the overall appearance. The end result is an aesthetically pleasing look dominated by a relatively large display screen that is visible to the user through a display cover glass and positioned within a computer housing that does not require substantially more height or width than the display screen itself.
While many designs and techniques used to present a display screen have generally worked well in the past, there is always a desire to improve on the accuracy of the assembly thereof, such that improved functionality and/or appearance is provided.
Apple Invents a Shape Adjustment System
Apple's invention generally relates to methods and computer code for adjusting the shape of an item such as a computer housing. For example, in an assembled computer, cover glass may be coupled to the computer housing and hence the shape and dimensions of the computer housing may affect the interface therebetween. By way of further example, light leakage may occur at edges of the computer housing between the computer housing and the cover glass if the dimensions and shape of the computer housing differ from the specifications.
The systems may include a measurement apparatus that measures the position of points on the computer housing. By comparing the positions of the points to reference values, a determining apparatus may determine an offset therebetween. Once the offsets are known, an adjustment apparatus may apply force to the computer housing (or other item) based on the offsets. This may occur (e.g., concurrently or sequentially) until the offset at each of the points falls within a predetermined range of acceptable values. Accordingly, the shape of the computer housing (or other item) may be adjusted to meet the desired specifications.
Apple's patent FIG. 4 illustrates a partially-exploded view of a system configured to adjust a shape of a computer housing by employing independent actuators to contact a portion of the computer housing being adjusted; FIG. 5 illustrates an overhead view of a fixture of the system; and FIG. 6 illustrates a system configured to adjust a shape of a computer housing by employing independent actuators to contact a portion of the computer housing opposing the portion of the computer housing being adjusted.
Although Apple's patent figures are restricted to the iMac, it should be noted that Apple's new shape adjustment system will apply to other types of displays. Apple specifically lists the following: "a television, terminal, monitor or integrated computing device, among other possibilities that have display screens. Other possibilities that may utilize such an interface system can include various handheld media devices, such as the iPod and iPhone."
Apple credits Shravan Bharadwaj and Derrick Jue as the inventors of this patent application 20130133167 which was originally filed in Q4 2012. It should be noted that our patent report is based on Apple's "Detailed Description" segment of their patent application. To review Apple's patent claims, see Apple's patent filing. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing to market of such an Apple product is unknown at this time.
One More Thing: Apple Invents 3D Cursor
Another patent that was published today by USPTO worth noting this morning, is one titled "Using a Three-Dimensional Model to Render a Cursor."
According to Apple, particular implementations of this invention provide at least the following advantages: By rendering the cursor using a three-dimensional model, the cursor can be rotated, scaled and even morphed or deformed into different shapes. The three-dimensional cursor can be made to feel much more like a single unified object.
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A Word about Continuation Patents
It should be noted that the US Patent and Trademark Office did in fact publish a series of older continuation patents today dating back to between 2009 and 2011. The continuation patents listed below are specifically referenced as such under the section titled "Cross-Reference to Related Applications." Generally speaking, this type of patent application contains modifications that Apple's legal team have made to the original patent claims in an effort to have the US Patent Office finally approve their invention.
In general continuation patents don't represent any new developments from the original patent filing. Some websites mistakenly report on continuation patents as if they were new Apple filings to which they are not. Here are the older continuation patents that were published today by the US Patent Office:
1. 2011 Patent 20130133947 Touch Sensor Back Plane Ground Connection
2. 2009 Patent 20130135213 Sensing Capacitance Changes of a Housing of an Electronic Device
3. 2011 Patent 20130136967 Curved Battery Cells for Portable Devices
4. 2009 Patent 20130138627 Quick Find Data Fields
5. 2011 Patent 20130138861: Adapter for Electronic Devices
6. 2009 Patent 20130138973 System and Method for Data Obfuscation based on Discrete Logarithm Properties
7. 2011 Patent 20130139064 Methods for Managing Authority Designation of Graphical User Interfaces
Patently Apple presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics 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 full and accurate details. Revelations found in patent applications shouldn't be interpreted as rumor or fast-tracked according to rumor timetables. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.
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