Apple Reveals an all-new Laser-Textured Glass Trackpad for future MacBooks that will deliver a superior user Experience
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to an all-new laser method of creating a MacBook trackpad that is smoother and more advantageous over today's glass etching techniques. The technique could also be used on the iPhone's back glass and future products.
Apple's invention relates to laser-textured glass components such as glass cover members.
The laser-textured surfaces of the glass cover members may provide desired tactile, friction, and/or optical properties to an exterior surface of an electronic device.
Laser-texturing methods disclosed in Apple's patent filing may have advantages as compared to some conventional glass texturing techniques. The laser-texturing methods may produce a more smoothly textured surface than some conventional abrasive etching techniques.
For example, laser-textured surfaces may have features that are more rounded than those obtained with some conventional techniques. Textured surfaces with rounded features may provide a smoother feel to the electronic device and may make the textured surface easier to clean.
In addition, the laser-texturing methods don't require the acids (e.g., hydrofluoric acid) used in conventional chemical glass etching techniques.
In some embodiments, the laser-textured surface of the glass cover member may be configured to provide a particular coefficient of friction or otherwise may produce a particular tactile feel to a user when the surface is touched.
For example, a laser-textured surface may be configured to have a coefficient of friction, for a finger touching or sliding along the laser-textured surface, that is within a specified range, thereby providing a desired feel to the enclosure.
A user may touch or slide a finger along the laser-textured surface, for example, as a result of normal handling of a device or to provide an input to the device (such as when the glass cover member defines a touch-sensitive surface or other input surface of the device).
In addition, the laser-textured surface may be configured to impart certain optical properties or appearances to a device, alone or in combination with one or more coatings applied to or otherwise visible through the glass cover member.
For example, a cover assembly including a laser-textured glass cover member and a decorative coating may have a desired level of gloss, haziness, transmissivity, or the like, all of which may cooperate to produce a desired visual appearance and/or performance.
In addition, the laser-textured surface may not introduce a perceptible visual texture to the corresponding external surface of the enclosure.
Apple's patent FIG. 3 below is an example of a MacBook trackpad that includes a laser-textured glass cover member; FIG. 8 shows a flow chart of a process for forming a laser-textured glass cover member.
Apple's patent FIG. 10A above schematically shows a first laser-texturing operation; FIG. 10B schematically shows an enlarged view of the glass cover member partway through the first laser-texturing operation; FIG. 10C schematically shows a second laser-texturing operation; FIG. 10D schematically shows an enlarged view of the glass cover member partway through the second-laser texturing operation.
Apple's patent application number 20200385307 that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was filed back September 2019. For more details, check out the patent here.
A second patent on strengthened backside glass for the iPhone could be found here. While interesting in many way, this patent doesn't relate to the iPhone's Ceramic Shield. Patently Apple posted an IP report on Apple's latest iPhone 12 glass with Ceramic Shield here.
Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.