Apple won 52 Patents today covering a possible next-gen HomePod with Touch Controls, an iPhone mini with a Wrap-Around Display and more
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 52 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we briefly cover a possible advancement in the original HomePod that would add invisible touch controls built-into the fabric of the HomePod that would light up when needed and deactivate when not in use. Apple was also granted a patent for a mini-iPhone with a wrap-around glass enclosure offering a looping display from the face to the back of the device and virtual side buttons. In addition, Apple's HomePod mini trademark was given registered trademark status and, as always, we wrap up this week's granted patent report with our traditional listing of the remaining granted patents that were issued to Apple today.
HomePod with Invisible Touch Controls+
Apple has been granted patent 11,137,861 entitled "Fabric-covered electronic device with touch sensor," that was first made public in a patent application on March 5, 2020. The patent relates to a future HomePod with touch sensitive controls built into the fabric that could light up to be visible when needed and deactivate when not in use.
Apple's patent describes how a touch sensor may be used to detect touch input on the layer of fabric of a future HomePod.
The touch sensor may include capacitive touch sensor electrodes including drive lines and sense lines. In some arrangements, the touch sensor is formed from conductive strands in the layer of fabric.
In other arrangements, the touch sensor is formed from conductive traces on a substrate. The substrate may be formed from portions of the curved housing or may be formed from a separate layer.
Light-emitting components and/or fabric with different visual characteristics may be used to mark where the touch-sensitive regions of the fabric are located. The touch-sensitive regions may be shaped as media control symbols.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a perspective view of Apple's HomePod having a housing covered with a fabric layer illustrating where touch sensors and control circuitry for new touch controls will be; FIG. 4 shows how a layer of fabric may have openings such as diamond-shaped openings like the current HomePod provides.
More specifically, Apple's patent FIG. 16 above shows how touch sensor #50 may be located in discrete touch-sensitive regions on housing. Touch-sensitive regions on this future HomePod such as touch-sensitive regions #96 may have any suitable shape. In the example of FIG. 16, touch-sensitive regions have the shape of a plus symbol (e.g., for increasing volume) and a minus symbol (e.g., for decreasing volume).
If desired, light-emitting devices on the HomePod may emit light in the infrared, which is invisible to the user, but can be detected by external sensors and devices to support light-based communication between item 10 and external devices. The HomePod may also include infrared light-detectors to support infrared light-based communications and sensing.
If desired, the control circuitry may use light-emitting devices to indicate what control function is associated with touch-sensitive regions. Light-emitting devices may be used to display audio playback control symbols (e.g., a play symbol, a pause symbol, next and previous track symbols, increase and decrease volume symbols, etc.) and/or other control symbols (e.g., a menu symbol, a power symbol, a sleep symbol, etc.).
For more details, review Apple's granted patent here.
iPhone with Wrap-Around Glass Housing & Looping Display
Apple originally filed for this patent 8.5 years ago back on March 28, 2013. Today Apple was granted their 8th patent for this invention. For details, check out our original report linked to above or our last report posted in November 2019 which logged one of the updates. You could also review granted patent 11,137,799 in full here.
Rumors claim that Apple is likely to kill off the iPhone mini next year. One has to wonder if Apple is considering to introduce a completely new entry iPhone form factor like the one illustrated in this patent. It would certainly be a bold move and that's probably why Apple won't take the chance. Though, we can always hope.
HomePod mini: Now a Registered Trademark
Although Apple's HomePod mini was granted registered status on September 28, 2021, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office only made it public on Monday October 4th under number 6,504,159. Apple introduced the HomePod mini on October 13, 2020 and filed for its trademark on November 10, 2020.
The Remaining Patents Granted to Apple Today