It's been a while since we've seen a fresh new accessory patent from Apple and today the US Patent & Trademark Office published one that covers new case concepts for the iPad and iPhone. The more elaborate casing concept covers the iPhone where it uses advanced magnets to hold it in place while upright and even incorporates an embedded keyboard. The designs differ in that the larger iPad case models will use a new hinge system to keep the iPad in place and upright along with latches while the iPhone uses next-gen magnets and a flexible material for bending the cases into the position that's right for the user.
Computing devices have become increasingly portable as a result of advances in component manufacturing that have yielded more compact electronic components. Many of these computing devices include flat screens that allow for viewing digital content in almost any environment. In situations where a user may prefer a computing device to be in a static position for an extended period of time, there may be limited resources for adequately standing the computing device upright for viewing the flat screen. Moreover, certain stands may be limited to a single upright position, thereby limiting the ways a user can interact with the computing device while the computing device is being supported by the stand.
Invention: New iDevice Case with a Balanced Hinge
Apple's invention relates to folio cases for computing devices. The case includes cover portions configurable as a stand for the computing device, and a flexible region between the cover portions. The flexible region is configured to provide a torsional force that counteracts at least some force exerted by the computing device when the cover portions are configured as the stand.
In Apple's patent FIG. 2A noted above we're able to see a front perspective view of an embodiment of a new case #200 that may couple with and support an iPad. Further, the case is designed to resist static loads (such as the weight of the computing device), as well as dynamic loads (including touch inputs to the display). Each of these loads may be exerted on the case as a result of the computing device being positioned in an at least partially upright position, as shown in FIG. 2A.
The case may include several flexible elements embedded in the second back cover and the front cover. For example, the case may include a first torsional element #216, a second torsional element #218, and a third torsional element #220. As shown in the enlarged view, the first torsional element may resemble a spring with a first end and a second end embedded in the front cover and the second back cover respectively. The first torsional element can include springs made from a metal or plastic, and having at least two ends that terminate in a substantially straight orientation.
Apple notes that in order to secure the computing device with the case, the first back cover #308 may include latching elements, such as a first latching element #344 and a second latching element #346 as noted above. The number of latching elements may vary depending on the device and style of case.
New Case Concepts for iPhone
The next round of case concepts appear to be for a smaller device like and iPhone and offer varying features. In patent FIG. 6A presented below we're able to see that this design of case relies more on a flexible region #620 disposed between the first portion #608 and the second portion #610. The flexible region can include one or more springs as we noted in earlier patent figures presented above and/or one or more layers of flexible material that act as a spring embedded between layers that define the first portion and second portions.
In Apple's patent FIG. 7 presented above we're able to see a rather interesting new idea of an iDevice case. The new concept illustrates a perspective view of an embodiment of a case #700 that can include one or more flexible regions and conductive pathways for operating electrical components embedded in the case #700. More interesting is that this design relies on magnets to keep the case securely attached to an iPhone and includes an embedded keyboard.
More specifically, Apple notes that case #700 may include a keyboard #732 embedded in the case and electrically coupled to the conductive pathway #730. In this way, a user can type on the keyboard and control applications executing on the computing device by way of signals traveling via the conductive pathway. The keyboard can receive power by the computing device by way of an internal power supply (not shown), or battery, within the computing device.
Alternatively, the case may include an internal power supply (not shown). Still, as an additional alternative, an auxiliary power supply (not shown) connected to the case and an external power source, such as an outlet or another computing device. In some embodiments, the case can include electrical components in place of or in addition to the keyboard. For example, such electrical components can include a speaker, microphone, wireless transmitter, touch pad, heating pad or cooling pad, camera, processor, radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag, and/or any other electrical component.
And lastly in Patent FIG. 8A presented below we're able to see a front perspective view of an embodiment of a case (#800) that includes magnets for creating a magnetic trough in which the computing device can hover above as a result of magnetic repulsion and at least one or more flexible regions of the case.
Apple's patent FIG. 8B noted above illustrates a front perspective view of the case shown in FIG. 8A, with the computing device removed from the case so that you can see the back side magnet that will keep the mobile device in place.
Apple's patent application was filed back in Q3 2016. The lead engineer listed on the patent is James Stryker, Manager Product Design at Apple. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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