New Apple Inventions cover Biometrics and a possible Thinner MacBook Cover Hinge Supporting Cellular Connectivity
Today the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office published patent applications from Apple that cover a possible new MacBook hinge supporting cellular connectivity and biometrics related to Touch ID that could eventually extend to Macs.
The Apple MacBook Hinge Patent
Apple's patent application number 20150049275 titled "Hinged Portable Electronic Device with Display Circuitry Located in Base" relates to a MacBook hinge. It was filed a month after Apple's last MacBook Air release.
According to Apple, some notebook computers use a bulky wiring harness that includes a coaxial cable. Other computers use a flexible printed circuit cable that is wrapped in a spiral shape. Configurations such as these may allow rotation of the lid relative to the base, but can require bulky hinge structures to provide sufficient space to accommodate the wiring harness or spiral flexible printed circuit. If care is not taken, undesired stresses may sometimes be imposed on cables that extend between the base and lid through a hinge that is subject to periodic movement.
Apple's patent abstract: An electronic device may have a housing with a lid that rotates relative to a base. A display in the lid may have a thin-film transistor layer. Display driver circuitry may be mounted to the thin-film transistor layer. A display timing controller integrated circuit may be mounted in the base. A rigid flex printed circuit may have a rigid portion in the base to which the display timing controller integrated circuit is mounted and may have a rigid portion in the lid. A flexible printed circuit portion of the rigid flex printed circuit may be used to couple the rigid printed circuit portion in the lid to the thin-film transistor layer. A flexible printed circuit portion of the rigid flex printed circuit that extends between the lid and the base may be formed from a double-shield-layer single-signal-line-layer flexible printed circuit.
Apple notes in patent point # 25 states that "Control circuitry may be used to run software on the device such as internet browsing applications, voice-over-internet-protocol (VOIP) telephone call applications … using cellular telephone protocols. Are we getting closer to the cellular MacBook?
Apple's patent FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional end view of the hinge portion of the portable computer of FIG. 6 in an open position showing how a flexible length of the rigid flex printed circuit can bend to accommodate opening of the lid of the portable computer in accordance with an embodiment.
Newly Revealed Biometrics Patent
Apple's latest biometrics/Touch ID related patent application to surface can be found under number 20150049926 titled "Electronic Device Including Finger Sensor having Orientation based Authentication and Related Methods.
Apple's Patent Abstract: An electronic device may include a housing, and a finger sensor carried by the housing to sense a user's finger placement at different rotational angles. The electronic device may also include an orientation sensor carried by the housing to sense an orientation thereof, and a processor coupled to the finger sensor and the orientation sensor. The processor may acquire finger-matching biometric data of the user's finger at an unknown rotational angle relative to a known rotational angle of finger-enrollment data, generate an estimated rotational angle of the acquired finger-matching biometric data and based upon a sensed orientation of the housing, and attempt an authentication of the user based upon the estimated acquired rotational angle.
Beyond the iPhone and iPad, the patent clearly notes that Apple's Touch ID centric technology may one day apply to the iMac and MacBooks.
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