Apple wins a Patent for a Next-Gen iPad Cover and Magic Keyboard using a new structural design supported by Folding Magnets
Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent that relates to device accessories that can have reconfigurable shapes and sizes. The main focus of the patent focuses in on possible next-gen iPad cover and Magic Keyboard accessories that contains magnetic elements that support the cover unfolding into a stand and/or a stand with a Keyboard.
Apple's granted patent reveals a possible next-gen iPad accessory that can be arranged into different forms and shapes so that the accessories can be customized in accordance with particular electronic devices.
In some embodiments, the accessories can take the form or include a flat panel that can be folded into a multitude of three-dimensional shapes. The panel can be reversibly configured between a flat sheet and different three-dimensional shapes similar to the concept of origami.
The flexibility of the foldable panel allows the accessory to be used with the electronic devices in different ways to serve different purposes, depending on the circumstances.
According to some embodiments, an accessory can include a foldable panel that can be formed from a flexible substrate and that can carry a network of structural elements. At least some structural elements are rigid enough such that those structural elements are not able to bend or be forced out of shape by normal human force.
In one case, the structural elements can be aligned and separated by linearly foldable regions. Hence, at least some of the fold lines can be linear. In some cases, there can be multiple fold lines in different non-parallel directions, such as lateral, longitudinal and diagonal directions. In some cases, the fold lines intersect with each other. In some cases, the foldable panel is designed to preferably fold along certain fold lines over other fold lines.
The presence of multiple fold lines can enable the accessory to serve different purposes for the electronic device. For example, in one situation, the foldable accessory can take on a flat so that it can cover and protect a flat surface of the electronic device, such as a display of the electronic device.
In other situations, the accessory can be folded into different three-dimensional configurations that can be used, for example, to support the back of an electronic device at multiple angles with respect to a support surface. The structural elements can provide structural integrity to the accessory so that the accessory can stably retain a three-dimensional shape without collapsing.
In some cases, the structural elements can include magnets and/or an internal skeleton that help retain the foldable panel in one or more folded configurations – as presented in the patent FIGS. 1, 2A and 2B.
The patent FIGS. below illustrates a foldable iPad cover with an input panel that supports a keyboard and possibly a touch pad.
In addition to providing protection and support to an electronic device, Apple notes that in some embodiments the iPad cover could also be a supplemental power storage system. For example, the structural elements of the foldable panel can be power storage units to supply power to input device and/or to electronic device.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent 11,209,870. One of the inventors is Chiachi wu, Mechanical Engineer (13.5 years with Apple).