The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 41 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover Apple's patent officially titled "Interlocking flexible segments formed from a rigid material." The patent covers a possible future unibody MacBook enclosure that uses an all-new flexible "living hinge" system that differs from anything Apple has used in the past.
Apple's patent notes that "An enclosure for a laptop may be created from a rigid material having a flexible portion defined around approximately a midpoint of the material. The flexible portion may allow the rigid material to be folded in half and thus acts as a laptop clamshell. A top portion may support a display screen and a bottom portion may support a keyboard, track pad, and the like, while an interior defined by sidewalls of the rigid material may house a variety of electronic components in accordance with conventional laptop computing devices. In this manner, the enclosure (or a portion thereof) may be created from a single rigid material, while still providing flexibility and bending for the enclosure."
The heart of the patent is well presented in Apple's patent FIG. 4C below which illustrates a simplified side perspective view of an enclosure including a geometric pattern shown in FIG. 3B with a top portion partially angled with respect to a bottom portion.
Apple's patent FIG. 3A above is a top perspective view of the rigid material forming the enclosure prior to being formed with the flexible portion; FIG. 3B is a top plan view of the rigid material including a first embodiment of a geometric portion forming the flexible portion; and FIG. 4D is a simplified side perspective view of the enclosure including the geometric pattern of FIG. 3B with the top portion positioned substantially parallel to the bottom portion.
Like with all patents, Apple's focus is on a new kind of cover enclosure for a future MacBook but notes that the system could be used for future accessory covers for the iPad and iPhone.
Apple's patent application EP3324265 titled "Interlocking Flexible Segments formed from a Rigid Material" was an update published by the European Patent Office on Wednesday May 23, 2018.
In May 2018 Patently Apple covered this as a patent application titled "Apple Files European Patent Focusing on a new MacBook Clamshell Design with a Laser Cut Flex Hinge."
Apple's granted patent 10,532,428 was originally filed in the U.S. in Q3 2017 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.