Apple adds finer points to two interesting Inventions covering a next-gen iDevice Cover and Magnetic Charging
On this slow summer patent day, we see that Apple has updated two interesting inventions that they're working on. Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published continuation patents for a magnetic charging and optical data transfer system and a possible new iDevice cover with a hinge system.
Next-Gen iDevice Cover
A year ago Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple Reveals all-new iDevice Case Concepts for iPad & iPhone with an Embedded Keyboard & More." 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 as noted in patent FIG. 7 below. 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.
Apple's continuation patent 20180241427 revealed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today shows us that Apple is advancing the design which is a positive sign that the new case could one day be a reality.
Continuation patents always reveal the company's updates to an invention in their patent claims. In this patent Apple establishes the use of two magnetic sets. Apple notes in claim #2: "The accessory case of claim 1, wherein: the first portion comprises a first magnetic assembly having a first magnetic field, the base portion comprises a second magnetic assembly having a second magnetic field, and the second magnetic field magnetically repels the first magnetic field to form the suspended configuration.
Secondly, Apple adds in patent Claim #4: "The accessory case of claim 1, further comprising a hinge embedded in the first portion and the second portion, the hinge providing a force to counterbalance the portable electronic device.
Thirdly, Apple adds in patent claim #8: "An accessory case, comprising: a first back cover; a second back cover coupled to the first back cover, wherein the first back cover is movable with respect to the second back cover; a third back cover coupled to the second back cover, the third back cover movable with respect to the second back cover; a first magnetic assembly carried by the third back cover, the first magnetic assembly providing a first magnetic polarity; and a second magnetic assembly carried by the first back cover, the second magnetic assembly providing the first magnetic polarity such that the first magnetic assembly is magnetically repelled the second magnetic assembly.
Apple filed their continuation patent in April 2018. Two of the inventors of the patent include: James Stryker, Manager Product design and Nicholas Treadwell, a design engineer whose background is turbine engine designs. No, the new iDevice covers aren't being designed to fly around your office or home. Well, at least for now (ha!).
Magnetic Charging & Optical Data Transfer System
Last March Patently Apple posted a patent application report titled "Wireless Charging System that Puts Equal Emphasis on Wireless Data Transfers." Apple's patent FIG. 1 below illustrates an exemplary charging and data transfer system.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 above illustrates a top-down view of a phone, such as phone 104, according to embodiments of the present disclosure. In embodiments, a plurality of alignment magnets #202 may be disposed around glass window 116 for rough alignment purposes. The alignment magnets may help external charging and data puck #102 attach to the back surface of phone #104 and in a certain orientation. Once attached, one or both of first and second optical data transfer modules #112 and #118 may move to perform active alignment with one another while external charging and the data puck and the phone remain still. Thus, highly accurate alignment may be achieved between first and second optical data transfer modules without having a user manually adjust the position of the phone for performing fine alignment.
Apple notes that "This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 15/273,624, filed on Sep. 22, 2016." That application serial number relates back to patent application 20170090134 which we covered in our 2017 report.
The one claim that stands out from the fourteen is Claim #8 that covers "bidirectional optical data signals" (not mentioned in the '134 patent) as follows:
"An electronic device comprising: a housing including an exterior mating surface configured to interface with a separate electronic device; an inductive coil disposed within the housing and positioned proximate the exterior mating surface, wherein the coil has an inner diameter; an optically transparent window forming a portion of the exterior mating surface and positioned within the inner diameter of the coil; and an optical data transfer module disposed within the housing and optically coupled to the optically transparent window such that bidirectional optical data signals can be sent from and received by the optical data transfer module."
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