Apple granted patent describes a new Magic Keyboard that includes multiple roller hinges that provide greater angular options for iPad
In August 2021, Patently Apple posted a granted patent report titled "Apple wins a Patent for a possible Next-Gen Friction Roller Hinge System for MacBooks and iPad Accessory." Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a new patent that expands on a possible next-gen hinge system for Apple's Magic Keyboard for iPad Pro that may include a keyboard, touch pad or even a second display. The new multiple roller hinge system would provide users with more flexibility in angling the iPad to their liking as opposed to today's single angle design.
Apple's possible next-gen Magic Keyboard could contain multiple new roller and spacer elements as well as retention structures that could provide tension to increase the frictional force between the roller and spacer elements, and/or provide counterbalance to offset the weight of the iPad.
The hinge assemblies may include one or more roller elements (including cylindrical bodies) engaged with spacer elements (or linking elements), with a spacer element positioned between adjacent roller elements. Each spacer element can provide multiple surfaces, each of which is contoured to the shape of a roller element. The movement of the hinge assembly is based in part upon the roller elements rotating along the spacer elements, as well as movement of the roller elements and the spacer elements in multiple dimensions (that is, in a three-dimensional space).
Further, in some instances, the roller elements and the spacer elements synchronously move together to provide a more fluid movement of the hinge assembly, as well as the sections (of the accessory device) coupled together by the hinge assembly.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below illustrates an alternative Magic Keyboard design/assembly that supports a new multiple hinge system; FIG. 30 illustrates a side view of an alternate embodiment of an accessory device, showing a retention structure passing through multiple hinge assemblies.
Apple's patent FIG. 12 above illustrates a cross sectional view of an embodiment of an accessory device, showing a hinge assembly and a retention structure passing through the hinge assembly; FIG. 13 illustrates a cross sectional view of the accessory device shown in FIG. 12, showing the hinge assembly and components the hinge assembly interlocked with each other.
Apple notes that when the accessory device holds an electronic device, the counterforce, or holding force, provided by the accessory device depends upon the angle at which the hinge assembly positions the section(s) holding the electronic device. In this regard, the force provided by the hinge assembly changes based upon the position of the hinge assembly. Accordingly, the counterforce provided by the hinge assembly is a function of the angular position of the section(s). The aforementioned variables can all be manipulated to provide an accessory device with a desired user experience.
Overall, the hinge assembly in this alternative Magic Keyboard design allows for greater angular support for the iPad beyond today's single angle.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent US 11567542 B2.
- Ari Miller: Sr Product Design Engineer
- Kevin Robinson: Product Design Engineer
- Chien-Ning (John) Chen: Software Engineer - Embedded OS Services and Applications.