Apple Wins Patent covering a Foldable iPad and new Hinge System that could also be used in an alternative Mac Pro Display
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to a hinge system that could apply to a MacBook, foldable iPad, the Magic Keyboard for iPad and a future Mac Pro display system.
Apple further notes that control circuitry in the electronic device may adjust an electrically adjustable device to control resistance of the hinge to bending about the hinge axis. The electrically adjustable device may be an electroactive polymer layer that that adjusts pressure between two sliding layers of material and thereby adjusts sliding friction between the two layers, may be a magnetorheological device with an adjustable stiffness, may be an adjustable component formed from a shape memory material, or may be any other electrically adjustable device.
The foldable devices will support a wide variety of sensors such as fingerprint sensors, iris scanning sensors, retinal scanning sensors, Face ID flood illuminators, 3D non-contact gestures (Air Gestures). The system will be able to support health sensors such as blood oxygen sensors, heart rate sensors, blood flow sensors, and/or other health sensors, radio-frequency sensors, three-dimensional camera systems such as depth sensors (e.g., structured light sensors and/or depth sensors based on stereo imaging devices that capture three-dimensional images) and/or optical sensors such as self-mixing sensors and light detection and ranging (lidar) sensors that gather time-of-flight measurements (e.g., time-of-flight cameras), humidity sensors, moisture sensors, gaze tracking sensors, electromyography sensors to sense muscle activation, facial sensors, interferometric sensors, time-of-flight sensors, magnetic sensors, resistive sensors, distance sensors, angle sensors, force sensors such as force sensors that detect rotational force, and/or other sensors.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a possible future MacBook with a new hinge system; One of the key patent figures is patent FIG. 14 below which presents a foldable iPad that could double as a single display foldable notebook. Below is a perspective view of device #10 in an illustrative configuration in which housing portions 12A and 12B are part of a unitary housing having a bending portion that forms hinge 30.
Display 14 in this type of arrangement may be flexible to allow bending and unbending around hinge axis #36. Hinge #30 may be adjusted to help lock device #10 and housing #12 into a planar shape or in a bent shape and/or to release device and housing from one state to allow a transition into a different state (e.g., to allow device #10 and housing #12 to bend).
Apple's patent FIG. 15 covers an iPad case like the Magic Keyboard.
Apple's patent FIG. 16 below illustrates a possible next-gen display system.
In the example of FIG. 16 above, device #10 has an adjustable device such as an adjustable clutch formed from one or more devices. The housing of device #10 may have portions that slide relative to each other. Display #14 may, as an example, be mounted in display housing portion #12-1 and may be slidably couple to the base housing portion #12-2. Support member #104 may slide linearly into and out of base #12-2 to allow a user to adjust the height of the display. Sensor data such as information on the position of a user's hand, movement of a user's hand relative to device #10, force applied by user's hand to increase or decrease the height of the display, contact between the user's hand and one or more surfaces of device #10, information on the position of portions #12-1 and #12-2 relative to each other, information on the speed of movement of portions #12-1 and #12-2 relative to each other, information on the force applied to raise or lower housing portion #12-1, and/or other sensor data may be used by control circuitry in deciding whether to increase or decrease sliding friction.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent 11,009,921.