Apple Wins a Patent for Fused Glass Device Housings for iPad, an Apple TV, iMac and more
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to a long-standing vision for fused glass device housings. The patent illustrates a possible future Apple TV and/or a future iMac which would abandon their long standing love affair with aluminum. The fused glass designs may also extend to future iDevices. While Apple used this patent to implement a glass back plate for the iPhone, today's granted patent highlights an iPad including a glass back in its new patent claims. In 2021, a Bloomberg rumor report claimed that a future iPad would have a glass back. This supports Apple's long-standing patents on this concept.
Apple's granted patent notes that glass housing structures may be used to cover a display and other internal electronic device components. The glass housing structures may cover a front face of an electronic device and, if desired, may cover additional device surfaces.
Multiple planar glass members may be fused together to form a five-sided box in which electronic components may be mounted. Display structures and other internal components may be slid into place between opposing glass sides of the box.
Opaque masking material and colored glass may be used to create portions of the glass housing structures that hide internal device components from view.
Apple further states that "The glass housing structure may have multiple glass pieces that are joined using a glass fusing process. A peripheral glass member may be fused along the edge of a planar glass member to enhance the thickness of the edge. A rounded edge feature may be formed by machining the thickened edge. Raised fused glass features may surround openings in the planar glass member. Raised support structure ribs may be formed by fusing glass structures to the planar glass member.
In the example of FIG. 1, electronic device #10 has a stand such as stand #12 on which main unit #14 has been mounted. The main unit may include a display such as display #16 and a rear housing such as rear housing #18 (as an example). The device may be a monitor, a monitor with an integrated computer, a television, or other electronic equipment.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 represents an iPad with a fused glass back plate.
In Apple's latest granted patent for this invention, Apple reveals an emphasis on an iPad, as noted in FIG. 2, as being a major focus of the invention as noted in the following new patent claims 9-14:
#9. A tablet device comprising: a display; and a housing comprising: a first glass structure having a front wall positioned over the display and having a first thickness, a first side wall positioned at a side of the display and having a second thickness greater than the first thickness; and a second glass structure having a rear wall positioned below the display and a second side wall, the second glass structure defining a continuous curved profile of the housing.
#10. The tablet device of claim 9, wherein: the first glass structure and the second glass structure meet at a seam located between an end of the first side wall and end of the second side wall; and a distance from the front wall to the end of the first side wall is less than a distance from the rear wall to the end of the second side wall.
#11. The tablet device of claim 9, wherein the first glass structure is fusion bonded to the second glass structure.
#12. The tablet device of claim 9, wherein: the front wall defining a flat front surface; the first side wall defines a flat side surface; and the first glass structure further defines a front edge at a transition between the flat front surface and the flat side surface.
#13. The tablet device of claim 9, wherein the display is a touch sensitive display.
#14. The tablet device of claim 9, wherein: the first glass structure defines a curved internal surface at a transition between the front wall and the first side wall; and the display is positioned along the curved internal surface.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent US 11612975 B2. Apple has been working on this project for a decade. Today iPhones have a glass back plate and it appears from this granted patent that the iPad is next.