Apple invents a new vehicle mount for iPhone and possibly an iPad Mini using magnets or a differential-pressure-based holding structure +
Patently Apple covered Apple's first iPhone Holder accessory patent for Vehicles back in July 2020 followed another on Feb. 2022 which seemed to mirror a Belkin vent mount vehicle accessory. It would seem that Apple licensed that patent to Belkin. On Thursday, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a new patent application from Apple titled "Attachment Devices for Securing a Phone in a Vehicle." The new design may be able to magnetically support "other devices" which could certainly open the door for a future iPad mini and more.
Apple notes in their patent background that smartphones or other electronic devices can move inside of a vehicle during sharp turns or sudden stops. A phone or other electronic devices can slip between a seat and a consol. These actions can simply annoy a user, or they can become dangerous if it distracts the driver. Accordingly, it can be desirable to provide attachment devices that can securely fix a position of a phone or other electronic device in a vehicle. That is, it can be desirable to securely attach a phone or other electronic device to a structure or surface of the vehicle.
Another type of distraction can arise when a battery on a phone or other electronic device runs low or is not able to power the device. Accordingly, it can be desirable that the attachment device have the capability of charging a phone or other electronic device.
Apple's invention can provide attachment devices for securing phones or other electronic devices in a vehicle, where the attachment devices can further provide charging power to the phones or other electronic devices.
You have to wonder if a future iPad mini is being considered and fulfill what Apple describes as "other electronic device."
These attachments features can include a magnetic structure. This magnetic structure can be a moving magnetic structure and can include a magnet protected by a housing. The moving magnetic structure can be positioned in a recess in the attachment face such that the moving magnetic structure moves in the recess in a direction that is orthogonal (or at least nonparallel) to the attachment face. The magnet can be attracted to a magnet in an electronic device that is, or is being, attached to the attachment face of the attachment device.
The attachment device can be secured to a surface or structure of a vehicle such that the electronic device is held in place relative to the vehicle itself. The magnet can be a rare earth magnet, a magnetized ferromagnetic material, or other magnet. The magnet can instead be, or can include, a magnetically conducive structure that is not itself magnetic but can guide field lines from a magnet in the electronic device or elsewhere in the attachment device.
These and other embodiments of the present invention can provide other attachment features, such as a differential-pressure-based holding structure. The differential-pressure-based holding structure can include a flexible membrane that can be used to form a sealed area on a surface of an electronic device, where the sealed area has an internal pressure that is less than an ambient air pressure. This differential pressure can help to secure the electronic device in place.
The differential-pressure-based holding structures can be placed around the recess in the attachment face. The differential-pressure-based holding structure can also or instead include one larger suction cup that can be formed as a ring around the recess.
These and other embodiments of the present invention can provide other attachment features, such as one or more high-friction or high-stiction surfaces. The high-friction surfaces can be formed as part of one or more suction cups or other differential-pressure-based holding structure, they can cover a surface of a moving magnetic structure, they can be located elsewhere on the attachment face, or any combination of these locations. The high-friction surfaces can engage a surface of an electronic device to increase a shear force needed to remove the electronic device from the attachment device.
These and other embodiments of the present invention can also provide various electronic components and circuits for communicating with or powering an electronic device. For example, an attachment device can include a coil and driving circuitry. The coil can be driven by the driving circuitry to induce a sympathetic current in a corresponding coil in the electronic device. Circuitry in the electronic device can use the induced current to charge a battery in or associated with the electronic device.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 through FIG. 4 below illustrate a mating sequence between an electronic device and an attachment device while FIG. 5 illustrates an electronic device being detached from an attachment device.
For more details review Apple's patent application number 20220089100. Whether Apple will license their iDevice holder for Vehicles to Belkin or others, or decide to introduce one of their own is unknown at this time.
Other Magnet Related Patents Published Thursday
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office also published a series of original Apple patents relating to Apple's magnetic iPhone case, magnetically attachable wallet, a Compact 3-Axis Coil Design for Magnetic Tracking and "Sensor Detection of Magnetic Support for Electronic Devices" which relates to Apple's Pro Display XDR as shown in the patent figures below.