Apple Working on a Thinner MacBook Pro Design
While Intel is obsessed with pushing their Ultrabooks into the market to attack Apple's MacBook Air, Apple is working on producing a thinner MacBook Pro for road warriors who need the convenience of an optical drive. Apple's latest invention describes how they propose to minimize the mechanics of an optical disk drive so as to produce a thinner MacBook Pro design in the future.
The Problem to Solve
In many cases it is necessary to mount objects onto a turntable. For example, many electronic devices contain an optical disc drive (ODD) for the purpose of reading and writing optical discs. Especially in the design of portable computers and electronic devices, there is a high value placed on reduction of size and weight. Conventional optical disc drives rely upon a coaxial hub/turntable/rotation motor combination that moves substantially along the axis of rotation (the `z` direction) in one direction to allow the optical disc to be inserted and placed on the turntable. In order to secure the optical disc, the coaxial hub/turntable/rotation motor combination must then move in the other direction. This up and down movement in the z direction could substantially add to the overall height (also referred to as the Z stack) of the ODD limiting the potential to reduce the size and/or weight of the ODD and ultimately the electronic device in which the ODD is used.
A reduced Z stack height slot loading optical disc drive (ODD) includes at least a slot arranged to receive an optical disc, a turntable having a central opening and a platen arranged to provide a surface upon which the optical disc is secured, and a reduced Z drive mounting assembly used for securing an optical disc to the turntable. The reduced Z drive mounting assembly including a hub assembly having at least a ferritic hub aligned with the turntable central opening and shaped to accommodate an optical disc central hole, an interior surface shaped to act as a cam, a hub spring arranged to generate a spring force used to extend the hub into the turntable central opening in the presence of the optical disc, at least one ferritic securing clamp pivotally attached to the mounting assembly at a pivot point, and an electromagnet arranged to create an induced magnetic field that attracts the ferritic hub and clamp, wherein the magnetic attraction overcomes the spring force and causes the hub and the at least one clamp to retract into the mounting assembly.
A method of securing an optical disc to the turntable of an optical disc drive could be performed by retracting a ferritic hub and at least one ferritic clamp into the mounting assembly using magnetic attractive forces generated by an induced magnetic field, centering an optical disc substantially over the turntable central opening, collapsing the induced magnetic field within the mounting assembly, and extending the ferritic hub and at least one ferritic clamp out of the mounting assembly through the turntable central opening such that at least one ferritic clamp makes contact with the optical disc and secures the optical disc to the turntable.
A method of mounting an optical disc to the turntable of an optical disc drive could be performed by receiving an inserted optical disc, detecting the presence of an inserted optical disc, generating a disc input signal in response to the presence of an inserted optical disc, generating a magnetic field within the mounting assembly in response to the disc input signal, causing a ferritic hub and at least one ferritic clamp to retract into the mounting assembly, positioning the optical disc such that the optical disc is substantially centered about the turntable central opening, detecting the presence of the optical disc upon being substantially centered around the turntable central opening, generating a disc centered signal in response to the optical disc being substantially centered around the turntable central opening, collapsing the magnetic field in response to the disc centered signal, thereby eliminating the induced magnetic forces applied to the hub and at least one ferritic clamp, and generating an extending force that causes the hub and at least one of the clamps to extend out of the mounting assembly such that the clamp makes contact with the optical disc thereby mounting the optical disc to the turntable.
Apple's patent FIG. 4 shown above is a graphical representation showing the relationship between current I.sub.EM in an electromagnet and magneto-motive force; patent FIG. 6 shows an embodiment of ODD assembly in a plan view of a slot loading ODD: and patent FIG. 7 shown below is a flowchart detailing process for securing an optical disc to a turntable.
Apple's two patent applications covering this invention were originally filed in Q3 2010 by inventor Paul Wehrenberg.
Two Other Noteworthy Patent Applications Published Today
Last week Apple was granted a patent for a notebook with features such as a pivotal or swivel lid and illuminable latch that incorporated a camera. According to a new patent application published this morning it appears that Apple is already refining this project. In fact Apple's patent application 20110255289 was only filed on at the end of June or four months ago. If anyone could make this idea fly – it's definitely Jony Ives.
Patent Abstract: The computing device includes a camera. In one aspect, the camera may be integrated with the housing of the computing device and further detachable therefrom. In another aspect, the camera may swivel and/or translate relative to the housing of the computing device. In another aspect, the computing device may include a positioning device for controlling the movement of the camera relative to the housing. In yet another aspect, the computing device may include a latch that is automatically positioned in a home position when a housing component of the computing device is positioned in first position, and is automatically positioned in a lock position when the housing component of the computing device is positioned in a closed position.
Another project that is back on the drawing board is one that deals with a possible future iPod being able to incorporate a "Compact Ejectable Component Assembly." According to the invention, removable modules fitting onto a miniature tray like a SIM Card tray could include integrated circuit cards (ICCs), chip cards, memory cards, flash memory cards, microprocessor cards and smart cards. Today's published patent application 20110255252 which refines the project was filed in June 2010.
Notice: Patently Apple presents a detailed summary of patent applications with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for full and accurate details. Revelations found in patent applications shouldn't be interpreted as rumor or fast-tracked according to rumor timetables. Apple's patent applications have provided the Mac community with a clear heads-up on some of Apple's greatest product trends including the iPod, iPhone, iPad, iOS cameras, LED displays, iCloud services for iTunes and more. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.
Here are a Few Great Community Sites covering our Original Report
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@ Ryan. Patents aren't rumors. If it's somethinng that Apple is working on, you have to give it time. With iCloud, Apple may skip it or it's on the way. But patents usually take time to come to market Ryan and we say this in our notice at the bottom of every report. Patents aren't to be digested like rumors.
Posted by: Jack Purcher | October 30, 2011 at 03:31 PM
Hmm I was speculating that Apple would get rid of the optical drive in the next revisions of the Macbook Pro. I guess not.
Posted by: Ryan | October 30, 2011 at 03:04 PM