Apple Invents New Touch Pad Electrode Design & Diamond-Like Carbon Coating to Help Keep Battery-Powered Devices Cooler
Last week we learned about Apple inventing an all-new touch sensor panel that would support larger displays like those found on a MacBook Air or Pro. Today, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals yet another major touch related invention relating to an all-new touch pad electrode design which is to reduce the effects of noise and thermal drift and to provide users with more precision in their interaction with a touch display. Another invention covered in our report covers an amorphous diamond-like carbon coating for increasing the thermal conductivity of the structural frames of any Apple mobile device that is battery-powered. We close out our report by covering a new camera patent and providing you with a list of continuation, provisional and divisional patents that were published today that may interest some.
Patent Background: Old Heat-Dissipation Methods
A modern portable electronic device typically contains a set of tightly packed components. For example, a mobile phone may include a microphone, display, speakers, camera, buttons, battery, processor, memory, internal storage, and/or ports in a package that is less than 0.5 inches thick, 4-5 inches long, and 2-3 inches wide. Moreover, most components in the portable electronic device generate heat, which must be dissipated to enable safe use of the portable electronic device and improve long-term reliability. For example, heat generated by components in a mobile phone may be spread across the enclosure of the mobile phone to prevent damage to the components and increase user comfort and safety while operating the mobile phone.
However, heat-dissipation mechanisms for portable electronic devices generally involve the use of additional parts and/or materials. For example, heat sinks, cooling fans, heat pipes, thermal spreaders, and/or vents may be used to dissipate heat from components in a laptop computer. Such heat-dissipating parts and/or materials may take up space within the portable electronic devices and may add to the cost of the portable electronic devices.
Hence, space-efficient designs for portable electronic devices may be facilitated by mechanisms that reduce the dependence of the portable electronic devices on conventional heat-dissipating parts and/or materials.
Invention: New Heat-Dissipation Invention
Apple's invention provides a component for a portable electronic device which includes a structural frame within the portable electronic device and an amorphous diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating deposited on the surfaces and the edges of the structural frame, wherein the amorphous DLC coating increases a thermal conductivity of the structural frame.
In some embodiments, the structural frame includes one or more apertures filled with the amorphous DLC coating. The apertures(s) may be formed to facilitate heat dissipation from one or more heat-generating components in the portable electronic device, such as a backlight, a processor, a charging circuit, and/or a power supply.
In some embodiments, the structural frame is affixed to a chassis of the portable electronic device. A display may also be disposed over the structural frame within the portable electronic device.
In some embodiments, the structural frame includes a set of side supports. The side supports may be created by bending the structural frame along one or more of the edges. The side supports may also be created after the amorphous DLC coating is deposited on the surfaces and the edges of the sheet.
In some embodiments, the structural frame is composed of at least one of stainless steel, zinc, magnesium, aluminum, copper, and glass-filled plastic. In some embodiments, the amorphous DLC coating is about 18 microns thick. In some embodiments, the amorphous DLC coating is deposited on the surfaces and the edges of the structural frame using a plasma-assisted vapor deposition technique.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 shows a cross-sectional view of a portable electronic device which is an iPhone or iPod touch. The device, however, could be applied to any battery-powered device that would include an iPad, MacBook Air/Pro or any future device that is battery-powered.
Apple credits Stephen Zadesky, Fletcher Rothkopf and Anna Shedletsky as the inventors of patent application 20130128462 which was originally filed in Q4 2011. To review Apple's patent claims, see Apple's patent filing. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing to market of such an Apple product is unknown at this time.
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Apple Invents a New Touch Pad Electrode Design
One of Apple's latest patent applications describes yet another detailed next generation touch pad electrode design. Apple's patent relates to capacitive multi-touch sensor panels having rows and columns forming a rectilinear pattern.
Apple states in their patent background that some conventional capacitance touch pad sensors have exhibited more than optimal amounts of noise and thermal drift. Furthermore, some conventional touch pad sensors have not provided a linear to substantially linear response as a finger, for example, moved across the surface of the touch sensitive panel. Therefore, it is an object of the new invention to reduce the effects of any noise and thermal drift, as well as provide a linear or substantially linear response per area touched on the touch sensitive surface.
Apple's patent abstract states that "A multi-touch capacitive touch sensor panel can be created using a substrate with column and row traces formed on separate layers of the substrate. The column and row traces can include sections extending from a central trace and forming a rectilinear trace pattern with sections of the columns and rows interdigitated with one another. The trace pattern can comprise a plurality of pixels arranged continuously across the sensor panel. In this manner, the sensor panel can provide a linear or near linear response to touches across the touch sensor panel."
This is a very complex patent filing with 22 detailed patent claims. To review this patent, see application 20130127781. Steve Hotelling and Kenneth Staton are credited as the inventors.
Camera Related Patent
In a final patent application we point you to Patent 20130129204 entitled "Illuminant Estimation."
Apple's invention relates to illuminant estimation and in particular to a method of chromagenic illuminant estimation which concentrates on the brightest pixels. The results of the estimation may be used in the fields of digital photography or computer visuals etc. to remove the color biases from images due to the illumination.
A Word about Continuation Patents
It should be noted that the US Patent and Trademark Office did in fact publish a series of older continuation patents today dating back to between 2006 and 2011. The continuation patents listed below are specifically referenced as such under the section titled "Cross-Reference to Related Applications." Generally speaking, this type of patent application contains modifications that Apple's legal team have made to the original patent claims in an effort to have the US Patent Office finally approve their invention.
In general continuation patents don't represent any new developments from the original patent filing. Some websites mistakenly report on continuation patents as if they were new Apple filings to which they are not. Here are the older continuation patents that were published today by the US Patent Office:
01. 2009 Patent 20130130730: MANAGING NOTIFICATION MESSAGES
02. 2008 Patent 20130128997: Adaptive Two-Dimensional Channel Interpolation
03. 2006 Patent 20130128799: Address Spoofing Prevention
04. 2006 Patent 20130130803: Allowing Media and Gaming Environments to Effectively Interact and/or Affect each Other
05. 2008 Patent 20130129135: Multiple-Use Acoustic Port
06. 2009 Patent 20130129209: Detecting Skin Tone in Images
07. 2010 Patent 20130129246: Memory Compression Technique with Low Latency per Pixel
08. 2009 Patent 20130130730: Managing Notification Messages
09. 2007 Patent 20130130668: Group Call Management
10. 2007 Patent 20130132934: Application Interface on Multiple Processors
11. 2011 Patent 20130132781: Program Counter (PC) Trace
12. 2010 Patent 20130132391: Predicting Content and Context Performance based on Performance History of Users
2007 Provisional Patent 20130133047: Interworking between first and second authentication domains (Note that this is one of the patents that Apple acquired from Nortel)
2008 Divisional Patent 20130131852: Media Processing Method and Device
2009 Divisional Patent 20130129986: Techniques for Marking Product Housings
2010 Divisional Patent 20130132189: Divisional Patent: Content Conversion Tracking
2007 Provisional Patent 20130130655: Dynamic Foreign Agent-Home Agent Security Association Allocation for IP Mobility Systems
2009 Divisional Patent 20130130668: Electronic Device Testing Using Radio Signals
2011 Divisional Patent 20130132439: Organizing Versioning According to Permissions
2007 Provisional Patent 20130132412: Auto-Activation of Fonts
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. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.
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