Apple invents an AIO Desktop Computer made from Glass that incorporates the Keyboard, Dual Trackpads & more
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to a next generation all-in-one (AIO) desktop iMac that is made with a continuous glass body. The design is shown to have a number of twists with alternative ideas including a similar shaped desktop accessory designed for a MacBook. The current iMac design is growing a little stale for some and so it's great to see Apple's engineers beginning to stretch their imaginations in search for a next-gen iMac.
In Apple's patent background they note that many electronic devices include multiple distinct components in which input and output devices are provided. For example, a display enclosure may be separate from an input device or keyboard enclosure. Additionally, the enclosure(s) of some traditional electronic devices may be formed from materials that are easily scratched or that provide an inferior tactile feel or visual appearance.
Apple's invention covers a new vision for a future iMac/desktop PC made with a glass housing that includes a continuous surface defined by the upper portion, the lower portion, and the transition portion.
This future iMac/desktop PC may include a display coupled to the glass housing member and configured to provide a visual output at the display area. The electronic device may include a keyboard coupled to the glass housing member and configured to detect an input at the input area. Alternative designs show the keyboard being separable.
A desktop computer may include a display, an input device operably coupled to the display, and a glass sheet. The glass sheet may include a first portion defining a planar display area, a second portion defining a planar input area, and a curved portion between the planar display area and the planar input area. The desktop computer may include a support structure coupled to the glass sheet and configured to support the glass sheet.
Apple clarifies that the glass housing could be made with materials that are transparent, coated, painted, or otherwise treated to produce a non-transparent (e.g., opaque) component; in such cases the material may still be referred to as transparent, even though the material may be part of an opaque component. Translucent components may be formed by producing a textured or frosted surface on an otherwise transparent material (e.g., clear glass). Translucent materials may also be used, such as translucent polymers, translucent ceramics, or the like.
The housing member may have properties that enable the diverse input and output functions described herein. For example, the housing member (e.g., the optically transmissive member) may be strong and may have a high resistance to scratching, and may provide a surface finish having a superior appearance and/or tactile feel as compared with other materials or components.
Apple's patent FIG. 3 below we see a continuous glass iMac/Desktop PC design that includes an OLED display, an integrated keyboard and left and right touch input zones like a seamless dual trackpad construction; FIG. 11E illustrates the back of the new device with ports and speaker. The device could double as a home automation system.
Apple's patent FIG. 4B below notes that the housing member #450, and in particular the portion of the input area #455 in the lower portion #454, may be shaped to define physically distinctive key regions.
In various embodiments, the housing member may include recesses, protrusions, borders, or other physical features on its exterior surface that define and/or delineate distinct key regions #459 and that can be felt by a user when typing on or otherwise touching the input area.
For example, a glass housing member may be thermoformed, slumped, heat-pressed or otherwise processed to form an array of raised key regions (e.g., protrusions, contoured key regions, etc.) that define the key regions of a keyboard.
Raised key regions may provide a more familiar-feeling keyboard surface to users, as the individual key regions may have a similar shape and feel to conventional movable keys. Moreover, a user may be able to type faster and with fewer errors because they can feel the borders and boundaries of each key region and do not need to look at the keyboard to align their fingers with the keys. The ability to feel distinct key regions may also help prevent a user's hands from unintentionally drifting out of position during typing.
Apple's patent FIG. 11B below shows the keyboard #1185 transitioning to a use configuration in which the keyboard is positioned on or above the lower portion #1154 and is extended out of the opening #1186. The keyboard may be configured to slide out of the opening as part of the transition from the storage configuration to the use configuration, and slide into the opening #1186 as part of the transition from the use configuration to the storage configuration. FIG. 11b shows that the keyboard may flip back down and slide into the opening.
An Accessory Design Supporting MacBooks
Apple's patent FIG. 12C below is a MacBook desktop accessory where the keyboard slides into the desktop accessory opening to provide users with a larger display to work with when at home or the office.
An Alternative Foldable Design
Apple's patent FIG. 20B below the electronic device #2000 may be configured to fold or otherwise flex for storage, transportation, or other functionality.
Apple's patent application 20200026327 that was published today by the U.S. Patent Office was filed back in Q2 2019. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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