Apple Granted 30 Patents Today Covering Fuel Cells and Liquid Metal used in Apple's iPhone Home Button
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 30 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover granted patents for liquid metal used in the iPhone's Home Button and fuel cell technology. This is Apple's third granted patent for fuel cells. The first was granted in March 2015 and their second granted in August 2016. We wrap up this week's granted patent report with our traditional listing of the remaining granted patents that were issued to Apple today.
Granted Patent: Fuel Cell System to Power a Portable Computing Device
Apple's newly granted patent 9,917,340 covers their invention relating to systems that use fuel cells to provide electrical power. More specifically, the patent relates to a fuel cell system which is designed to provide electrical power to a portable computing device.
Apple's patent FIG. 1B noted above illustrates how fuel cell system #100 can be connected to a portable electronic device #120 through a special interface #110. This special interface includes: (1) a power link that provides power #112 to the portable computing device, and (2) a bidirectional communication link that provides bidirectional communication #114 between the portable computing device and the controller for the fuel cell system. This bidirectional communication link enables the portable electronic device to control various aspects of the operation of portable fuel cell system.
If Apple could ever deliver this technology for iDevices and MacBooks it would create a mega upgrade cycle like never seen before. Are we really far away from seeing this come to market?
In the summer of 2015, a British firm called Intelligent Energy, demonstrated a new iPhone 6 fuel cell that integrated seamlessly into the existing chassis as noted below that could reportedly run the device for up to a week. At that time the fuel cell didn't replace the existing lithium-ion battery, only supplemented it.
The technology would have to be extensively tested in a number of scenarios to ensure that the fuel cell doesn't rupture or that the vents don't become obstructed when the phone is slipped into various pockets or purses.
While it's encouraging to see that this is Apple's third granted patent, it's unknown if Apple is actually any closer to bringing this to iPhones any time soon.
Granted Patent: Bulk Amorphous Alloy Pressure Sensor
Apple's newly granted patent 9,915,573 covers their invention relating to pressure sensors comprising bulk-solidifying amorphous alloys and pressure switches comprising bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy materials.
Bulk amorphous alloys are also known as liquid metals. Apple describes patent FIG. 10 this way:
FIG. 10 is illustrative of dome switch #900 in an actuated or collapsed position. When button #102 is pushed downwardly as shown by arrow #110 by a user's finger, the dome #101 is compressed and collapsed, thereby deforming bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy material #105.
While the actuated position illustrated in FIG. 10 shows the bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy material flattened, it will be understood that bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy material may be deformed only in the center portion or only deformed partially so that it is not flattened.
Side Note: Apple's FIG. 10 image appears to have been spliced as certain lines don't line up properly. This is the way the patent figure is presented in the USPTO images and not an alteration by Patently Apple.
The Remaining Patents granted to Apple Today
Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of granted patents with associated graphics for journalistic news purposes as each Granted Patent is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any Granted Patent should be read in its entirety for full details. About Making Comments on our Site: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit any comments. Those using abusive language or behavior will result in being blacklisted on Disqus.