On April 25, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a new In-Plane Keyboard Illumination system designed to allow future MacBooks to be even thinner. Apple's engineering teams are always pushing the boundaries of industrial design to deliver the very best products in the marketplace.
On April 9, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a new granted patent from Apple that reveals a new feature that has yet to come to market. As such, Patently Apple will present this granted patent in the form a new patent application report that goes deeper into the technology presented. Apple has been razzed for a while now for not having a technology for the iPhone that is similar to Samsung's Beam that lets users share large files from one smartphone to another using NFC. Apple's newly granted patent provides such an interactions and so much more. Apple's solution works between a Mac and iPhone and provides editing software to crop, scale and adjust images. Apple had the technology mapped out in January 2010, or about 30 months prior to Samsung's public release of this feature for the Galaxy SIII.
Patently Apple has been the only one that has been pounding the table for a notebook tablet hybrid going all the way back to 2008 and prior to any talk of this from the Intel camp who is now preparing their Ultrabook Convertible for release this summer. In February we posted another report that discussed integrated touch displays coming to Macs eventually and the naysayers surfaced once again to say that it was a brain dead idea. Well, today the US Patent and Trademark Office revealed Apple's patent that is in fact about a true hybrid notebook tablet in all its glory. The patent filing includes details of a very cool display with a retractable magnetic mechanism that hides itself once detached from the MacBook's main body. Today, on paper at least, Apple has finally revealed their first patent filing about a hybrid notebook-tablet with actual details.
On March 28, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals an invention that generally relates to a haptics device and, more particularly, to magnetically permeable materials in haptic devices. The new haptics for iDevices and the MacBook will provide crisper sensations while avoiding over sharp feedback.
On March 21, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a series of newly proposed protective mechanisms designed for future iDevices and MacBooks that will protect these devices that are about to fall to the floor or other surface. The invention for a protective mechanism is configured to selectively alter a center of mass of the electronic device. One design covers the use of an air foil while another covers the ejection of the battery in order to reduce device damage. Apple has come up with quite an elaborate design.
On January 31, 2013, the US Patent & Trademark Office published twenty patent applications from Apple and the most intriguing of all relates to their invention concerning a new depth perception system. While Apple has worked on "presence detection systems" before relating to MacBooks and iDevices, this new system goes beyond mere detection. For instance, in one application, Apple describes the new system integrated into an iPad that would be able to project a laser based keyboard onto a table. That would definitely be considered a wow-feature that could excite consumers. Of course, that's if they actually get it to market before the completion steals their idea, which is highly likely.
Santa, who is a secret agent of The US Patent and Trademark Office, officially dropped thirty-six shiny new granted patent certificates down Apple's chimney this morning at 12:05 A.M., according to Elf 101 who is Santa's official spokesperson. The Elf told Patently Apple that there were two special patents of interest. The first one was for the fourth generation iPod touch's design which may have been one of the last design patents for a product that lists the late Steve Jobs as one of the inventors. The second patent is for the MacBook Air which the late Steve Jobs proudly introduced back in 2008. Apple's patent, which isn't a design patent, covers many aspects of the MacBook Air's design. The MacBook Air is one of the best notebook designs on the market today. So much so that Intel and their band cloners have copied Apple's design form factor and called it the "Ultrabook."
In an interview with AllThingsD after the iPhone 5's Special Event held in September, Phil Schiller stated to Ina Fried that "wireless charging systems still have to be plugged into the wall, so it's not clear how much convenience they add." Schiller added "Having to create another device you have to plug into the wall is actually, for most situations, more complicated." Obviously Schiller was fully aware of the wireless charging system that the Crazy Ones in Cupertino were developing and today the US Patent Office published the patent application behind Apple's future charging system that could charge an entire virtual charging area worth of devices at one time without the need of a charging pad of any kind. The catch is that you'll have to purchase a next generation iMac with upgraded peripherals for it to work.
On October 25, 2012, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a new universal connector is on the way. Then again, it may already be with us via Apple's new Lighting connector. The illustration in our cover graphic illustrates that the head of the connector will have multiple openings just like today's Lightning connector. There's another major connection between Apple's description of the new connector and today's Lightning connector and our report lays that out. In April 2010 we pointed to Apple's patent covering a new mini tower in the works and Tim Cook confirmed that Apple will be updating the Mac Pro in Q4 2013. This is where this new universal connector will really shine. The new connector on the next generation Mac Pro will likely have a single universal port design that will cover everything from USB, HDMI, DVI, DisplayPort and Thunderbolt. In the end, there may be more to Apple's new Lightning connector than originally thought.
Three years ago we called for an ultrathin iMac and today Apple delivered it. The new thinner iMac design was mainly accomplished by eliminating the optical drive as they did with their MacBook Air and other MacBooks over time. Yet to be fair to Apple's industrial design team lead by the fanatical Sir Jony Ive, they sweated over the details to refine the LCD process and even used a new welding process called "Friction Stir Welding" in order to get the thinner design just right. And in the heart of this new beast lies an all-new hybrid hard drive that Apple calls a Fusion Drive; a drive that fulfills a 2011 patent application.
Last week Patently Apple broke the news about an Apple invention describing a new laminate notebook with a hidden display in its lid. The basic idea behind this concept had been around for some time and Intel actually presented a prototype of it at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in January. Intel's Ultrabook prototype, dubbed "Nikiski," featured a "transparent mouse-pad spanning the width of the device. When closed, the pad made it possible to continue to view the top-third of the device's screen, with the pad acting as a touch-screen interface, enabling the user to view and interact with a custom Metro UI app for quick access to social media and important information without the need to open up the Ultrabook." Coincidentally or not, this just happens to be a page right out of one of Apple's recent patent applications filed for years ago. Today we'll review the highlights of this patent that interestingly provides us with a few twists along the way.
On September 6, 2012, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals their continuing work on virtual keyboards for both the iMac and MacBook. For the MacBook, such work could lead to a future hybrid notebook/eBook iDevice.
On June 21, 2012, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a series of utility centric patent applications from Apple that cover security, display luminance, flash memory, mobile device simulation and more. In the big picture, the vast majority of Apple's annual patent-count is derived from utility patents. These are the kinds of patents that take care of all the tiniest of details behind Apple's most popular products, processes and manufacturing. They might not represent the visionary side of Apple, but they sure keep the trains running on time. They're also part of Apple's legendary and fanatical detailing process that goes into every upgrade and next generation product. On the flipside, we sure hope that Apple's creative and visionary side reemerges because the volume of patents of late in that area have been nothing shy of anemic. Here's to hoping that Apple is in the process of changing gears and inventing their next generation of knock-out products for us to enjoy.
On April 26, 2012, the US Patent & Trademark Office published three interesting patent applications from Apple. In the first one, Apple seeks to patent their Upper West Side (NYC) retail store structure that's located at 67th Street and Broadway. Just last week they filed a similar patent application for their Shanghai Apple Store. This trend of patenting "Flagship" store designs is likely to be a trend that will continue going forward. In a second patent application, we see that Apple has developed a new OLED driver which indicates that Apple is considering OLED for future MacBook and iOS device displays. The advantage to OLED is that display-backlighting isn't required. In the third patent application we see that Apple is legally beefing up their patent pending MacBook Air by including nine related patent applications under one roof. Is Apple making this move to protect their design if challenged or could it be used offensively in the future against copycat OEM designs hiding under Wintel's Ultrabook banner? Time will tell.
Apple thinks it's time for a MacBook Pro to have a kick-ass surround sound audio system. With future MacBooks doubling as our Mobile TV, Movie Theater and high end video conferencing system, it's time to kick the audio quality up a notch so as to compete with PC Notebooks offering Beats Audio. This is definitely a feature that I think that most would welcome with open arms.