Last Thursday, Patently Apple discovered a patent application from Apple that was filed in Germany. The patent revealed that future MacBook Pro models could include a secondary camera integrated into the backside of the lid while introducing a magnetically attachable mini camera accessory for their entry model. This patent was also the one that first revealed and described the new face side "camera notch" feature for the MacBook.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 illustrates a MacBook with a Face Camera (further in FIG. 4A below, it's a Notch Camera); FIG. 2C illustrates that a MacBook may include a second camera on the back lid.
In Apple's patent 3B, the second camera is integrated into the backside lid of the MacBook; in FIG. 3 and 10A Apple illustrates an attachable camera accessory via a magnetic system; FIG. 5 illustrates a "Pro" camera, similar to one used on the iPhone Pro/Max.
Apple further notes that the optical component (Camera #712) may include any number and/or type of sensors in addition to the cameras. Accordingly, the second camera #723 may include a sensor module, such as an infrared camera, a time-of-flight camera, a light detection and ranging module (LiDAR module), a facial recognition sensor or sensors, an object detection sensor or sensors, or any other sensor or sensors as desired.
Apple's patent FIG. 4A reveals Apple's latest MacBook camera notch, making this part of the patent, a patent fulfilled.
Apple's patent FIGS. 8A-C illustrates how Apple engineers envision strengthening the MacBook's back lid to accommodate either a second integrated camera or the weight of a camera accessory mounted on the back lid.
As an example, shown in patent FIG. 8D above, component #1230 disposed in display portion volume #1209 may be a structural component that will provide structural support and/or stiffness to the display portion. The structural component may include any type or form of structural material as desired, and may include polymeric material, metallic material, ceramic material, and/or combinations or composite materials thereof.
Further, the structural component #1230 May include a structure grid having a repeating shape. In some examples, the structural component 1230 May include a honeycomb grid. In some examples, the structural component 1230 May include a metallic grid that may be filled with relatively light weight material, such as a relatively light polymer material.
Although not a core part of the patent, Apple interestingly describes the following:
"The device #400 [MacBook] may also include a base portion #404 that may be rotatably or otherwise movably or removably attached to each other by a connection component #403."
Elsewhere Apple notes: "in some examples, the display portion #102 may move in any manner desired with respect to the base portion #104. For example, the display portion may slide laterally relative to the base portion #104 and/or rotated relative to the base."
The description of "removably attached" is open to interpretation. "Patentese" can be confusing at times. Is "removable" component used in the sense of making it easier to remove by a repair shops, or does it mean that the user could remove the display from the MacBook base to use as a tablet using macOS.
During the Wall Street Journal Tech 2022 event last week, Joanna Stern ask Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, if we'd ever see a touch screen on a Mac. Federighi thought about it and said, "Who's to say." That's actually a new stance from the traditional straight-forward "No." So, is the door now open a crack … for this patent? Only time will tell.
In the big picture, Apple's patent is 99% focused on the mechanics of the cameras, the construction of the strengthened back lid of the MacBook and the mechanically attachable camera accessory. The reasoning or marketability of the secondary was never revealed in any way shape or form.
Yet the fact that the MacBook lid will use magnets to hold a camera accessory in place and that the patent distinctly pointing to the use of a camera with facial recognition could suggest that the when the lid of this future MacBook is closed, the user may need to use the Face ID camera on the lid to unlock the magnets to open your MacBook. That would be a first-to-market security feature.
Then again, that use scenario is never specifically described and what if Face ID didn't function in poor lighting, How would it work then? Perhaps using a new iPhone related feature.
Apple's patent application was filed in Germany under DE102022109847 titled "KAMERAINTEGRATION FÜR TRAGBARE ELEKTRONISCHE VORRICHTUNGEN" – translated to "CAMERA INTEGRATION FOR PORTABLE ELECTRONIC DEVICES." The patent that was filed on April 25, 2022, was published on October 27, 2022.
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