Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to a next generation all-in-one (AIO) desktop iMac that is made with a continuous glass body. The design is shown to have a number of twists with alternative ideas including a similar shaped desktop accessory designed for a MacBook.
Without a doubt, this has to be one of the coolest patented Apple device concepts ever conceived. One can only hope that Apple will one day have the courage to actually deliver such a sexy beast to market so as to bring back some Apple design magic,
Apple's granted patent covers a new vision for a future iMac/desktop PC made with a glass housing that includes a continuous surface defined by the upper portion, the lower portion, and the transition portion.
This future iMac/desktop PC may include a display coupled to the glass housing member and configured to provide a visual output at the display area. The electronic device may include a keyboard coupled to the glass housing member and configured to detect an input at the input area. Alternative designs show the keyboard being separable.
A desktop computer may include a display, an input device operably coupled to the display, and a glass sheet. The glass sheet may include a first portion defining a planar display area, a second portion defining a planar input area, and a curved portion between the planar display area and the planar input area. The desktop computer may include a support structure coupled to the glass sheet and configured to support the glass sheet.
Apple clarifies that the glass housing could be made with materials that are transparent, coated, painted, or otherwise treated to produce a non-transparent (e.g., opaque) component; in such cases the material may still be referred to as transparent, even though the material may be part of an opaque component. Translucent components may be formed by producing a textured or frosted surface on an otherwise transparent material (e.g., clear glass). Translucent materials may also be used, such as translucent polymers, translucent ceramics, or the like.
The housing member may have properties that enable the diverse input and output functions. For example, the housing member (e.g., the optically transmissive member) may be strong and may have a high resistance to scratching, and may provide a surface finish having a superior appearance and/or tactile feel as compared with other materials or components.
Apple's patent FIG. 3 below we see a continuous glass iMac/Desktop PC design that includes an OLED display, an integrated keyboard and left and right touch input zones like a seamless dual trackpad construction; FIG. 11E illustrates the back of the new device with ports and speaker. The device could double as a home automation system.
Apple's patent FIG. 4B below notes that the housing member #450, and in particular the portion of the input area #455 in the lower portion #454, may be shaped to define physically distinctive key regions.
In various embodiments, the housing member may include recesses, protrusions, borders, or other physical features on its exterior surface that define and/or delineate distinct key regions #459 and that can be felt by a user when typing on or otherwise touching the input area.
For example, a glass housing member may be thermoformed, slumped, heat-pressed or otherwise processed to form an array of raised key regions (e.g., protrusions, contoured key regions, etc.) that define the key regions of a keyboard.
Raised key regions may provide a more familiar-feeling keyboard surface to users, as the individual key regions may have a similar shape and feel to conventional movable keys. Moreover, a user may be able to type faster and with fewer errors because they can feel the borders and boundaries of each key region and do not need to look at the keyboard to align their fingers with the keys. The ability to feel distinct key regions may also help prevent a user's hands from unintentionally drifting out of position during typing.
An Accessory Design Supporting MacBooks
Apple's patent FIG. 12C below is a MacBook desktop accessory where the keyboard slides into the desktop accessory opening to provide users with a larger display to work with when at home or the office.
An Alternative Foldable Design
Apple's patent FIG. 20B below the electronic device #2000 may be configured to fold or otherwise flex for storage, transportation, or other functionality.
This is Apple’s second granted patent for this invention. Apple’s latest granted patent adds 20 new patent claims to better protect the invention from patent trolls and competitors. Below are just three of the new patent claims:
New (Claim #1): “An electronic device comprising: a glass housing member comprising: an upper portion defining a first region of a continuous exterior surface of the electronic device; a lower portion defining a second region of the continuous exterior surface of the electronic device; and a transition portion extending between the upper portion and the lower portion and defining a third region of the continuous exterior surface of the electronic device, the transition portion configured to bend in response to the lower portion being articulated between a first angular position relative to the upper portion and a second angular position relative to the upper portion; a display coupled to the glass housing member and configured to provide a graphical output at a display area extending from the upper portion and at least partially through the transition portion; and an input device coupled to the glass housing member and configured to detect an input at an input area extending from the lower portion and at least partially through the transition portion.”
New (Claim #10): “An electronic device comprising: a glass housing member comprising: a first glass sheet defining a continuous front exterior surface of the glass housing member; and a second glass sheet defining a rear exterior surface of the glass housing member, the first and second glass sheets defining: an upper portion of the glass housing member; a lower portion of the glass housing member; and a transition portion of the glass housing member extending between the upper portion and the lower portion, the transition portion configured to bend to change an angular position between the upper portion and the lower portion; a display positioned between the first glass sheet and the second glass sheet and configured to provide a graphical output at the upper portion; and an input device positioned between the first glass sheet and the second glass sheet and configured to detect an input at the lower portion.”
New (Claim #16): “An electronic device comprising: a glass housing member comprising: a first portion at least partially defining a continuous exterior surface of the electronic device; a second portion at least partially defining the continuous exterior surface of the electronic device; and a third portion extending between the first portion and the second portion and at least partially defining the continuous exterior surface of the electronic device, the third portion configured to allow an angular position between the first portion and the second portion to be varied; and a touch-sensitive display coupled to the glass housing member, the touch-sensitive display comprising a first display portion positioned at the first portion of the glass housing member, a second display portion positioned at the second portion of the glass housing member, and a third display portion positioned at the third portion of the glass housing member.”
For more details and to review the remaining 17 new patent claims, review Apple's granted patent 11,397,449.
The excitement for this new iMac concept had a number of renderers post images of what the design could translate to. Our cover graphic and those below are from Yanko Design. You could view a variety of additional rendering on their site here.
(Click on images below to Enlarge)