Yesterday the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to a new kind of smart iPhone case that includes a detection mechanism that notifies the iPhone user with a message on their display when their device is securely in place. If additional steps are required to ensure that the case is securely in place so that the touch sensitive surface of the iPhone is fully functional through the case's added protective layer, the case will provide feedback to your iPhone informing you through a message system what correct measures you must take to correct the alignment problem. The case is made up of two parts to completely encase the iPhone.
We start our report with Apple's patent FIG. 3 noted below which illustrates an exploded view of the iPhone case showing you various features that may be designed to interact with the iPhone or with other features of the case.
The case could use materials such as plastic, silicone and/or leather. The electrical contact #210 may allow the case to communicate with the user's iPhone to provide an indication (in the form of an electronic signal or signals) to i that it's positioned on the surface #212, and in particular, whether the iPhone properly aligned with the second part #206.
In FIG. 3 above, Apple notes that the processor circuit #216 may run a program (or programs) stored on a memory circuit #218 also disposed in the second part #206 below the surface #212.
A battery #220 disposed in the second part and below the surface may provide power to the processor circuit and the memory circuit. If the iPhone is properly aligned, the processor circuit may use the input from the electrical contact and based on the input, generate an output to the iPhone to communicate to the proper alignment to the iPhone.
Conversely, if the iPhone is not properly aligned, corresponding to an "error," the smart case may provide a different output to the iPhone indicating the improper alignment.
In other embodiments, the case will use a detection mechanism #256 which may include a solid-state proximity, Hall Effect or photoelectric sensor that communicates with the power and memory circuits that the case is aligned and closed properly.
In order to provide additional protection to the iPhone, the case may include a sealing element formed from a compressible material, such as silicone.
When the case encloses the iPhone, the sealing element may engage iPhone and in particular, a protective layer (such as a transparent cover glass that overlays the display) of the iPhone.
Further, the sealing element may engage and compress against iPhone to provide an ingress barrier as well as protection against shock when, for example, the electronic device is dropped.
Also, in some embodiments, the iPhone includes a force detection sensor, or force detection layer, designed to sense an amount of force applied to the display. Further, the force detection sensor may also detect an amount of force applied by the aforementioned sealing element to the protective layer. For example, when the first part is assembled with the second part and the sealing element is positioned between the first part and the protective layer, the electronic device may determine whether the sealing element is properly aligned and engaged with the protective layer based upon the force detected by the force detection sensor at the protective layer. The electronic device may compare the detected amount of force with a predetermined amount of force, and generate and present a message on the display indicating whether the sealing element is properly aligned and/or engaged with the electronic device, and in particular, the protective layer. It should be noted that proper alignment/engagement is associated with the detected amount of force being within a tolerance of the predetermined amount of force, or within a predetermined range of force.
The message may include a statement that the sealing element is properly aligned with the protective layer, thereby providing a confirmation to the user that the accessory device needs no further action. Alternatively, the message may include a statement that the sealing element is not properly aligned with the protective layer, and may further suggest a corrective action to the user, which may include instructions to place the sealing element in proper alignment.
Apple's patent FIG. 6 noted above illustrates an isometric view of a rear portion of the accessory device, showing a latch mechanism in an unlocked configuration; FIG. 7 illustrates a plan view of the electronic device positioned in the accessory device, showing the display presenting a message based upon a configuration of the accessory device.
Apple's patent application was filed back in Q3 2016. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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