On June 28, 2012, the US Patent & Trademark Office published patent applications from Apple covering GarageBand, multiple camera sensors for iDevices, new optical display coatings and more. The US Patent Office has yet to publish the patent graphics for the patents we cover today. When they do, we'll update our report accordingly. Apple's dearth of patent applications now runs five straight weeks. Where oh where are Apple's talented engineers of late? This is the longest running patent drought since Patently Apple has covered Apple's patents.
On May 17, 2012, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple revealing a new manufacturing process. The main focus of this particular invention concerns the creation of devices with a unitary housing without seams or gaps. In March of this year we learned of Apple's use of ultrasonic welding in context with fastening parts within devices such as the iPhone. Today we learn of ultrasonic welding being used in conjunction with metal foil so as to create seamless form factors. It's the kind of stuff that keeps Sir Ive giggling in his sleep.
In March we broke the news on Apple winning a design patent for Apple's Shanghai's Glass Store entrance. Today we see that Apple is now seeking to protect that design even further by filing a patent application for it. Apple's patent details various aspects of the glass structure and we present you with a few of the key graphics in today's report.
Before there was even a Master Agreement signed between Apple and Liquidmetal Technologies, there was an Apple patent describing the use of such technology. In June 2010 we posted our original report titled "Behind Apple's Stunningly Crafted iPhone is a Patent." In May 2011 we pointed out how Apple updated their trademark to cover precious metals and their alloys for such things as watches and other interesting items. Then this past Saturday, AppleInsider's Daniel Dilger reported on Liquid Metal Technologies 10-K filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. After reviewing the statements related to Apple in their 10-K filing form, we wanted to investigate this a little further. The end result was the discovery of a pair of interesting patents related to Apple's relationship with Liquidmetal Technologies. In March we posted a report about Apple researching methods of waterproofing iOS devices and lo and behold, one of the key projects between Liquid Technologies and Apple was about "Forming a Hermetic Seal" for waterproofing. Today's report fills you in on the details.
On March 15, 2012, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that refines an older 2008 patent on using Ultrasonic bonding in products like the 2009 metal back iPhone and current iPods. Apple may have refined the process of ultrasonic bonding in their latest Apple TV and iPad designs where it's necessary to bring metal and plastic together to save on costs and to keep the devices lighter.
Once in a while we're treated to a new Apple invention that virtually contains a new self-contained world of possibilities and vocabulary to enrich it. It comes out of the blue and feeds our need for meaty new technology brimming with potential. Today is such a day. This is such an invention. Apple's invention reveals a wild world of programmable magnetic devices, and more particularly, to security for computing devices and peripherals that may be provided by programmable magnets. And yet, it reveals so much more than that. Apple envisions this technology eventually working into iOS devices to produce wild haptic effects using Ferrofluids on touchscreens and virtual keyboards. It will also allow Apple's iOS to present light based points on the display as a way to guide a user through a process like a teacher. This is wild stuff folks and it only scratches the surface of what's to come. Grab a coffee, sit back and really enjoy one of the most fascinating patent applications to have surfaced in some time. Update 4 PM MST: Apple reveals inductive charging and/or other wireless charging using coded magnets coming to a new MacBook Dock in a secondary patent.
On January 19, 2012, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals the next thing in battery designs. As Apple designs yet thinner devices, and more importantly, a next generation of devices yet unknown, they need to have the ability and flexibility to shape and contour battery designs that will fit their specific dream designs and form factors.
Yesterday, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that revealed their intent to reinvent a cooling system that is known in the industry as an ionic wind generator. This type of cooling system doesn't use a fan or heat sink. The problem with the current design however, is that it's only able to cool limited areas within a computer or device. Apple's reinvention of the ionic wind generator will allow the system to use specialty sensors and mechanisms to redirect cool air to various areas within a computer or device, as needed. This means that it could simultaneously cool down the CPU, GPU and other components such as batteries (in the case of iOS devices and the MacBook), transformers, storage devices, and other components. Yet if the GPU or any other component isn't being used, the system won't waste energy trying to cool down what's not necessary. Just think of it as a "smart" cooling system. Apple's killer attention to detail is legendary. Philosophically speaking, it's what separates the wheat from the chaff.
It was revealed yesterday by the USPTO that Apple has invented a new laser beam focus system that is used on their production lines overseas. Apple's passion for detail drove them to invent their own laser beam calibration system so as to get their spot-welds just perfect. Would we expect anything less from Apple? And on another front this morning, we learn that Apple may shift from IPS to IGZO displays in 2012. A 32" HDTV prototype using IGZO was demonstrated in Japan in October – which may explain one of Apple's motivators for shifting to IGZO displays.
On December 22, 2011, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a pair of patent applications from Apple that reveal greater detailing of their next generation Fuel Cell project. The new fuel cells will one day power both iOS and OS X portable devices like the iPhone and MacBook for days, if not weeks at a time. In October we covered Apple's first patent on fuel cell technology in respect to fuel cell plates. Today's patents provide us with greater detail of their fuel cell technology project that even considers implementing MagSafe as a key connector for fuel cell recharging between an iOS device like the iPhone and a MacBook. The race is on to bring next generation fuel cell technology to future portable devices and it appears that Apple may be on the verge of a major breakthrough on this front.
Apple's design and engineering teams have come up with a new way of creating and manufacturing backlit keyboards using a variety of lasers including ultraviolet laser, a green laser, a YAG laser and others depending on the desired size and shape of the graphic that Apple is trying to achieve. The process of creating the right effect will also employ the use of exotic paints such as titanium dioxide-loaded paint, a latex-based paint, a rubber-based paint, a plastic paint, and so on. While Apple illustrates that the new backlit etchings could be used in creating a future desktop keyboard, they also make it clear that the process could be used to create designs, logos, borders and more on iOS devices, televisions, mice, home electronics and far beyond. I'm sure that this process could be used in creating a very cool TV remote – but that's a story for another day.
Yesterday, US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a rather inventive idea of fighting grime on your iOS Devices. We were the first to reveal Apple's initial patent on this subject in August that focused on using a vaporizing method involving a physical vapor deposition chamber. In Apple's latest method, they reveal an alternate method of fighting grime that uses mechanical wave mechanisms that could use audio or physical vibrations. The interesting fact is that Apple has expedited this patent application which was only filed seven months ago. Apple is apparently out to fight grime on all iOS devices in the future, and before you know it, they'll be called the Grime Busters! That's right: Who ya gonna call? Grime Busters!
On December 8, 2011, the US Patent & Trademark Office published several patent applications from Apple that reveal their work on cooling down the exterior of their entire mobile device lineup from iPad to MacBook. Metal exteriors obviously get hotter than other substrates and Apple's latest round of inventions touch on creating "monitoring thermal zones" within each device that could drop the internal temperature as required to keep the exterior cool to the touch. This is also important because heat affects the accuracy of the gyroscope found in all iOS devices. On that point, Apple is shown to have reengineered their gyro so that it'll run cooler in the future. While we all know that Apple offers some of the coolest mobile devices in world today, Apple is now forecasting that they'll have even cooler devices in the future, literally.
The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of fifteen newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In our third and final patent report of the day, we cover a number of new powerful iPhone related patents that Apple's legal team will no doubt be able to add to their growing arsenal. The first patent covers the iPhone being able to order and pay for items such as fast food over a wireless network. The second and third patents cover the very complex subject of signal processing algorithms for wireless MIMO communication systems. And lastly, we look at Apple's reinvention of the circuit board that discusses multi-part substrate assemblies that allow Apple to design ever thinner iOS devices.