Apple Invents Fiber Composite Friction Hinges that could be used in Future Foldable Devices and HMD Finger Accessories
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that relates to hinges that could be used in the construction of devices such as a finger device to be used with a future HMD system, a foldable iPhone or iPad and MacBook.
Electronic devices may have portions that are joined with hinges. For example, a laptop computer may have a display housing that is coupled to a keyboard housing with a hinge. The hinge allows the laptop to be opened and closed and allows a user to adjust the angle at which the display housing is oriented.
If care is not taken, hinge structures may be bulky, weak, and prone to slippage. This can make it difficult to use a laptop computer or other electronic device into which the hinge structures have been incorporated.
Devices with Fiber Composite Friction Hinges
Apple's invention covers electronic devices that may have a fiber composite friction hinge with first and second hinge members that rotate relative to each other about a hinge axis. The fiber composite friction hinge may be formed from carbon fiber material or other fiber composite material.
The fiber composite hinge may have first and second sets of interdigitated elongated fingers extending respectively from the first and second hinge members. Holes in the elongated fingers may receive a shaft of a fastener aligned with the hinge axis. The fastener may be tightened to press the elongated fingers together along the hinge axis, thereby generating friction to help hold the hinge in a desired configuration.
Fibers in the composite material may be embedded in binder such as polymer binder. The fibers may wrap around the holes and fold back on themselves in the fingers. The ends of the fingers may be wrapped in additional fibers.
The fingers may be integral with other portions of the hinge members or may be embedded in separate support structures. Actuators may be provided to adjust the positions of portions of the hinge members. The electronic device may have a flexible layer such as a flexible display that overlaps the hinge structure. First and second housing portions that rotate with respect to each other may be coupled, respectively, to the first and second hinge members. The housing portions may be integral with the hinge members or may have separate core structures covered with claddings that are attached to the hinge members.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a side view of an illustrative electronic device such as a finger-mounted device with a hinge; FIG. 2 is a perspective view of foldable device like an iPhone or MacBook.
Apple's patent FIG. 10 above is a perspective view of an illustrative finger device with a fiber composite friction hinge; FIG. 22 is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative electronic device with a hinge structure.
Patently Apple has covered a few patents covering finger device accessories that could be used with a future HMD. The patents here and here could provide you with a greater overview of the use of finger devices.
Apple's patent application number 20210011524 is richly detailed and you could review the full patent here.