Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published a series of patent applications from Apple that cover possible future product materials, processes and packaging. If anything, they once again remind us that Apple is a premium device maker with distinct class. A company with engineers that sweat over every detail that almost borders on the insane. One patent application published today virtually leaps off the page and right into the iPhone 7's latest video by Jony Ive describing the anodizing pre-treatment process that creates a protective oxide layer that's behind the new iPhone 7's smooth finish. He describes this process at the 1:32 mark of the video below.
Apple's patent application 20160265117 describes "a method of forming on a surface, a metal oxide layer having a textured appearance." It further notes that that it relates "to laser textured surfaces and methods for forming and treating the same, including anodizing and anodizing pre-treatments. The texture includes three-dimensional features.
Apple notes that in some embodiments, a substrate has curves, edges or other structures that reflect light different than flat surfaces of the substrate. To illustrate, FIG. 10 shows us a perspective view of substrate #1000, which includes flat surface #1001, curved corners #1002 and curved edges #1004. The substrate can correspond to the housing of the iPhone. As viewed by an observer, curved corners and curved edges will appear glossier than flat surface, sometimes referred to as "specular highlights" #1006. This is due to how curved corners and curved edges capture and reflect incident light compared to flat surface.
In some embodiments, the surfaces of the substrate are altered to increase or decrease this specular highlight phenomenon. For example, curved corners and curved edges can be treated to intensify the visible difference between curved corners and edges compared to flat the surface.
Apple Store Bags
In case you didn't know, Apple has a group of engineers dedicated to inventions related to their retail stores to design general product tables, Apple Watch specific tables, headset specialty shelving units, iPad accessory shelving units, store fronts and giant swing-out glass doors, store concepts for the Grove, store fixtures like the Grove's planter, Apple Watch product packaging (design) and Apple Watch packaging – a utility patent that just surfaced today. And then there's a design patent for large Apple Store retail bags and today the utility patent covering these bags surfaced. Patent figures covering the bag are noted below.
Apple's patent 20160264304 covers the large Apple Store Bag. By itself it's easy to say that it's insane that Apple would spend that much time and engineering power on designing a paper bag when surely there must be an army of bag manufacturers around the world that would bend over backwards to make the finest bags available for Apple.
Yet the Apple Stores in all their variety are not your typical electronics or computer store – it's an industry phenomenon with no equal at the moment. It's about creating a unique environment for Apple fans and new customers from the opening door, to its tables, to its shelving, to the in-store backdrops to the photos they choose to present right through to product packaging – with nothing left to chance. It's about creating brand distinction which is always demanded from a premium product company.
Other Apple patent applications that surfaced today covering machinery, processes and materials include the following:
The patent covers the materials creating the home button as noted below.
Apple's patent FIG. 1B also shows an exploded view of the home button cover #110, showing a base sheet #112 separated from a sapphire sheet #114; Where the home button cover covers a biometric sensor, the materials and dimensions of the button cover may be selected to be suitable for that particular application.
For example, in the case of a capacitive biometric sensor, a material with a low dielectric constant or anisotropic properties may be selected for the base sheet of the home button cover.
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