Patently Apple has been the only one that has been pounding the table for a notebook tablet hybrid going all the way back to 2008 and prior to any talk of this from the Intel camp who is now preparing their Ultrabook Convertible for release this summer. In February we posted another report that discussed integrated touch displays coming to Macs eventually and the naysayers surfaced once again to say that it was a brain dead idea. Well, today the US Patent and Trademark Office revealed Apple's patent that is in fact about a true hybrid notebook tablet in all its glory. The patent filing includes details of a very cool display with a retractable magnetic mechanism that hides itself once detached from the MacBook's main body. Today, on paper at least, Apple has finally revealed their first patent filing about a hybrid notebook-tablet with actual details.
Apple Introduces their Hybrid Notebook-Tablet
Apple Finally reveals their hybrid notebook-tablet device. Apple states that their invention may take the form of a computing device including a base and a display selectively removable from the base. When connected or coupled to the base, the display may be rotatable and may pivot from an open position to a closed position. When disconnected or decoupled from the base, the display may be positioned in substantially any manner suitable by the user for viewing the display.
The display may communicate with the base wirelessly and data and/or power may be transmitted to and from the base and the display without the need for cables or wires. The data and power transmission may be wireless when the display is decoupled from the base and wired when the display is coupled to the base.
In other embodiments, the power and/or data transfer may be wireless when the display is either coupled or decoupled from the base. In one example, the display and base may each communicate via a 60 GHz wireless chip. In another example, substantially any type of data transmission may be used, e.g., Bluetooth, WiFi, and so on.
The support members and/or connection portions may also be retractable into their respective enclosures. In these embodiments, the support members and connection portions may retract when the display is decoupled from the base and may extend as the display is repositioned with the base. For example, the support members and/or connection portions may snap fit via a latch or spring biased member into place when the display is docked in the base.
Apple states that the computer device can be both a single operably connected device and two separate communicating devices.
It should be noted that in some embodiments, the display 104 may also transfer and receive data from an electronic component other than or in addition to the base. For example, the display may receive data from a digital camera, smart phone, and so on. This may allow the display to be a remote display for substantially any type of electronic computing device.
The Hybrid's Touch Display
Furthermore, in some embodiments, the screen may include a touch sensing or other input mechanism, such as a capacitive touch sensor, to allow the screen to further function as an input device for the computing device. This type of input functionality may be helpful when the display is removed from the base.
The Hybrid's Detachable & Retractable Display Mechanisms
Apple reveals that the support members 134 (highlighted in yellow above under the display) may retract into the enclosure 116 when the display is detached from the base 102. For example, the support members may be biased upwards by a spring and when the display is detached from the base the spring may force the support members into the enclosure. Alternatively, the support members may be biased by a spring downwards so that the support members may "snap fit" into position with respect to the connection portions 142.
The support members may be operably coupled to a switch, latch, relay or other switching element. When the display is removed from the base, the switch may electronically or mechanically retract the support members into the structure of the display (#116). For example, the switch may contract when the display is detached, contracting the support members. For example, the switch may have a magnetic polarization or other magnetized force and may interact with another element, such as an electromagnet, to mechanically pull the support members into or out of the enclosure.
Transferring Power Wirelessly from the MacBook Base to the Detached Display
Apple interestingly notes that's the MacBook's display and base may be detached from each other and still transfer power wirelessly. For example, the support members and the connection portions may include coils or capacitive plates that may transfer power wirelessly.
In this example, the support members may be electrically coupled to the base, specifically, the support members may be in electrically coupled to the connection portions. The support members and the connection portions may include corresponding coils that may transfer power inductively. The connection portions may be in electrical communication with the power source and may have an induced magnetic field when powered. The induced magnetic field may induce a current in the coils in the support members, thus providing electricity to the display. Similarly, the support members and the connection portions may transfer power through capacitive inductance, or other wireless power transfer mechanisms.
Apple credits Industrial Designer Duncan Kerr as the sole inventor of this patent application which was originally filed under serial number 250673 in Q3 2011. It should be noted that this isn't a design patent and so the exact look of the end result hasn't been revealed. The patent figures are there to simply convey the mechanics of the device.
Patently Apple's report is based on Apple's "Detailed Description" of their patent application. To review Apple's patent claims, see Apple's patent filing. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing to market of such an Apple product is unknown at this time.
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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. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.
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