The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 45 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover a single granted patent that surprisingly relates to an iWatch-like device form factor.
Apple Granted a Patent for Electronic Device Assemblies
Apple has been granted a patent today for their invention relating to electronic device assemblies. Apple's patent application was concealed from the public and this is the first time that we're seeing this invention.
Apple states that the electronic device that they illustrate may be a laptop computer, a tablet computer, a somewhat smaller device such as a wrist-watch device, pendant device, headphone device, earpiece device, or other wearable or miniature device, a cellular telephone, or a media player. As generic as that description is, the fact remains that Apple is not only illustrating a new form factor, they're describing all-new components to support a new device form factor that looks like an iWatch-like device.
In Apple's summary they state that an electronic device such as a tablet computer or other electronic equipment may have a housing. A display and other components may be mounted in the housing. Internal electrical components in the housing may include wireless circuits such as transceiver circuits, optical components such as light sensors and cameras, and other devices.
The housing for an electronic device may be formed from a conductive material. A dielectric structure may be mounted in a conductive housing to form an antenna window. An electrical component such as a camera, light sensor, or other device may press against a conductive foam structure in the electronic device. A flexible printed circuit may have conductive traces that form an antenna ground and antenna resonating element. The flexible printed circuit may be wrapped around a support structure.
One or more electrical components, the conductive foam structure and the printed circuit wrapped around the support structure may be compressed between a display cover layer and the antenna window. In this configuration, an electrical component such as a camera may press against the conductive foam. The conductive foam may press against the antenna ground. Pressure from the conductive foam may press the support structure and the antenna resonating element against the antenna window.
A camera window may be attached to a camera window trim using multiple adhesives. The adhesives may include an ultraviolet-light-curing adhesive and a hot melt adhesive. The trim may have a ring shape that surrounds a peripheral edge of the camera window. When mounted in the housing of the electronic device, the trim may have an exposed exterior surface. The housing may have a curved surface. The camera window may be mounted in an opening in the curved surface. The camera trim may surround the camera window and may have a curved exterior surface that matches the curved housing surface. Grooves may be formed on the curved exterior surface.
Signals may be routed within the electronic device using a flexible printed circuit cable. The flexible printed circuit cable may have a folded portion. A band structure may surround the folded portion to form a service loop. The flexible printed circuit cable may have one end that is coupled to an electronic component such as a display and another end that is coupled to a component such as a printed circuit board. During assembly and disassembly operations, the flexible printed circuit cable may slide within the band structure to accommodate movement between the components at the ends of the flexible printed circuit cable.
In Apple's patent FIG. 1, Apple's iWatch-like device could support capacitive touch electrodes or may be a display that is not touch sensitive. Display 14 may include image pixels formed from light-emitting diodes (LEDs), organic LEDs (OLEDs), plasma cells, electrowetting pixels, electrophoretic pixels, liquid crystal display (LCD) components, or other suitable image pixel structures.
Apple notes that the device will support wireless circuitry may include radio-frequency transceiver circuitry such as radio-frequency transceiver circuitry. The radio-frequency transceiver circuitry may include cellular telephone transceiver circuitry, wireless local area network transceiver circuitry, and satellite navigation system receiver circuitry such as Global Positioning System (GPS) circuitry and Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS) circuitry.
New Kinds of Device Parts Confirms it's about a New Form Factor
In Apple's patent FIG. 14 below we're able to see a perspective view of an illustrative camera window having associated grooved camera window trim structures in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.
In Apple's patent FIG. 4 below we're able to see a flexible printed circuit 38 may be wrapped around support structure 40 so that conductive foam 36B presses against antenna ground 36A. The support structure may be formed from injection molded plastic or other dielectric material.
In Apple's patent FIG. 20 below we're able to see an exploded perspective view of a system in which a flexible printed circuit cable that has been folded has been provided with a retention band to form a service loop.
Apple credits product designer Conor Lenahan who was a mechanical engineering intern at iRobot along with team mates Kevin Gibbs, Carl Peterson, Erik Uttermann, John Ternus, Justin Wodrich, Elvis Kibiti and Dereck Wright as the inventors of granted patent 8,712,233 which was originally filed in Q1 2012 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office. To review today's granted patent claims and details, see Apple's patent.
It should be noted that Apple has presented a "concept" design for the sake of this patent. This is not a design patent – therefore the design could dramatically differ once it comes to market.
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