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Apple Continues to Work on Waterproofing Future Devices

1 - Apple Continues to Work on Waterproofing Future Devices
In a Patent Flash Report that we posted last week partially titled "Will the iPhone ever be Waterproof?" – we covered Apple's system for creating a water seal involving the use of both a sealing tape such as DuPont's Kapton and a soldering paste. In today's newly published patent application, Apple reveals that they're working on waterproofing a key device component using silicone rubber as a sealant. The patent also reveals that their solutions could eventually extend on through to the iPad and even the MacBook. Apple isn't there yet, but their definitely working on ways of better protecting us against devastating water damage so that we could keep on working, surfing and enjoying our devices without unnecessary disruption.  


A Brief Overview of Apple's Water Inhibiting System


Broadly speaking, Apple's invention describes methods, apparatus and materials for forming components well suited for use in consumer electronic devices, such as laptops, cellphones, netbook computers, portable media players and tablet computers. In more detail, the embodiments relate to systems, methods, and apparatus for providing a moisture resistant environment for small form factor electronic devices.


In particular, the systems, methods and apparatus could be related to providing a moisture resistant environment that could be applied to the design of electromechanical switches. The electromechanical switches described in this patent application, could typically be located on an outer surface of the consumer electronic device and could be configured to provide an electrical output signal in response to an actuation of the switch via an applied mechanical force, such as in response to a mechanical force generated by a user.


For the electromechanical switch, a two pronged approach could be used to provide a moisture resistant environment. First, the switch could be sealed to limit moisture intrusion. Second, features could be included within the switch that helps to mitigate the effects of any moisture that penetrates into the switch.


An electromechanical switch could include conductive components, such as metal components, that allow circuits with differing electrical properties to be formed depending on a position of the electromechanical switch. Moisture intrusion within the switch could degrade switch performance over time as a result of water-based electrochemical deposition processes that could occur when conductive components are exposed to water.


In one embodiment, an electrical bridging component could be a conductive spring arm, such as a metal spring arm and the base could include three or more electrical contact pads, such as metal contact pads. In particular, to prevent moisture intrusion and resulting electrochemical processes that could damage the switch, the moisture inhibiting layer could be replenished over portions of contact pads that are not in contact with the spring arm thereby providing a moisture barrier at all times.


Assembly Switch using a Silicone Rubber Seal


Apple's patent FIG. 1 shows slide switch assembly that could include a multiple position slide switch button 101. The position of the slide switch button could be adjusted to provide different signals used to control the operation of a device as is shown in FIG. 9B.


2 - Assembly switch using a silicon rubber seal

Apple states that in order to minimize the intrusion of moisture from the external environment through the slide switch carrier, slide switch carrier seal 104 could be placed on the slide switch carrier (102). The slide switch carrier seal could be formed of moisture inhibiting material such as silicone rubber. In this way the slide switch carrier seal could have a shape that fits snuggly within the slide switch carrier. The carrier seal could limit but may not totally prevent moisture intrusion into the internal body of the switch assembly (100).


Water Proofing Patent Describes Various Slide Switch Assembly Features


3 - Apple's water proofing patent, various slide switch assembly features

Apple's patent FIG. 2 is a cross sectional view of a slide-switch assembly including a moisture-inhibiting material distribution mechanism; FIGS. 3A and 3B are cross sectional views of a slide switch assembly including a moisture-inhibiting material distribution mechanism and moisture-inhibiting material reservoir; FIG. 4 is a cross sectional view of a slide switch assembly including a moisture-inhibiting material distribution mechanism coupled to a conductive portion of the switch; and FIG. 8 is a cross sectional and a top view of a slide switch assembly including pitted contact pads.


Patent Credits


Apple's patent application 20120055767 was originally filed in Q4 2010 by inventors Kyle Yeates and Teodor Dabov.


At the end of the day, I'm not sure Apple will ever get to the point of offering us true waterproof devices. What they may do, as this invention suggests, is ensure that critical components are sealed form water so that we could recover from a minor water incident rather than going scuba diving with our beloved devices.


Notice: 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. Apple's patent applications have provided the Mac community with a clear heads-up on some of Apple's greatest product trends including the iPod, iPhone, iPad, iOS cameras, LED displays, iCloud services for iTunes and more. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.


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Apple should really just buy one of these new companies that puts a non-coating on your phone, making it possible to fully immerse it without harm. Then use the tech across the board.

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