Last week Patently Apple broke the news about an Apple invention describing a new laminate notebook with a hidden display in its lid. The basic idea behind this concept had been around for some time and Intel actually presented a prototype of it at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in January. Intel's Ultrabook prototype, dubbed "Nikiski," featured a "transparent mouse-pad spanning the width of the device. When closed, the pad made it possible to continue to view the top-third of the device's screen, with the pad acting as a touch-screen interface, enabling the user to view and interact with a custom Metro UI app for quick access to social media and important information without the need to open up the Ultrabook." Coincidentally or not, this just happens to be a page right out of one of Apple's recent patent applications filed for years ago. Today we'll review the highlights of this patent that interestingly provides us with a few twists along the way.
On September 6, 2012, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals their continuing work on virtual keyboards for both the iMac and MacBook. For the MacBook, such work could lead to a future hybrid notebook/eBook iDevice.
On June 21, 2012, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a series of utility centric patent applications from Apple that cover security, display luminance, flash memory, mobile device simulation and more. In the big picture, the vast majority of Apple's annual patent-count is derived from utility patents. These are the kinds of patents that take care of all the tiniest of details behind Apple's most popular products, processes and manufacturing. They might not represent the visionary side of Apple, but they sure keep the trains running on time. They're also part of Apple's legendary and fanatical detailing process that goes into every upgrade and next generation product. On the flipside, we sure hope that Apple's creative and visionary side reemerges because the volume of patents of late in that area have been nothing shy of anemic. Here's to hoping that Apple is in the process of changing gears and inventing their next generation of knock-out products for us to enjoy.
On April 26, 2012, the US Patent & Trademark Office published three interesting patent applications from Apple. In the first one, Apple seeks to patent their Upper West Side (NYC) retail store structure that's located at 67th Street and Broadway. Just last week they filed a similar patent application for their Shanghai Apple Store. This trend of patenting "Flagship" store designs is likely to be a trend that will continue going forward. In a second patent application, we see that Apple has developed a new OLED driver which indicates that Apple is considering OLED for future MacBook and iOS device displays. The advantage to OLED is that display-backlighting isn't required. In the third patent application we see that Apple is legally beefing up their patent pending MacBook Air by including nine related patent applications under one roof. Is Apple making this move to protect their design if challenged or could it be used offensively in the future against copycat OEM designs hiding under Wintel's Ultrabook banner? Time will tell.
Apple thinks it's time for a MacBook Pro to have a kick-ass surround sound audio system. With future MacBooks doubling as our Mobile TV, Movie Theater and high end video conferencing system, it's time to kick the audio quality up a notch so as to compete with PC Notebooks offering Beats Audio. This is definitely a feature that I think that most would welcome with open arms.
On February 2, 2012, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that describes new virtual controls for a desktop with a touchscreen. This once again illustrates that Apple may be working on an iMac Touch desktop computer. Considering that a company by the name of Perceptive Pixel will be introducing a 27" slanted Touch Display through various vendors later this year, Apple should step up this project from patent concept to reality sooner rather than later. In today's report, we'll show you a very cool video that'll make you lust for one of these new systems, I'm sure. Note: An important update has added to this report at 1PM MST.
On December 22, 2011, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a pair of patent applications from Apple that reveal greater detailing of their next generation Fuel Cell project. The new fuel cells will one day power both iOS and OS X portable devices like the iPhone and MacBook for days, if not weeks at a time. In October we covered Apple's first patent on fuel cell technology in respect to fuel cell plates. Today's patents provide us with greater detail of their fuel cell technology project that even considers implementing MagSafe as a key connector for fuel cell recharging between an iOS device like the iPhone and a MacBook. The race is on to bring next generation fuel cell technology to future portable devices and it appears that Apple may be on the verge of a major breakthrough on this front.
On December 15, 2011, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a series of six patent applications from Apple that reveal everything you ever wanted to know about the Mac Mini but were afraid to ask. Apple's main patent describes the aesthetically pleasing Mac Mini, simply referred to in the patent as a "small form factor desktop computer." The other patents within this group describe the Mac Mini's cooling system, internal electronics, manufacturing fixtures and removable hard drive. In fact they describe the latter as being an easy-to-remove hard drive which may be of interest to some. And lastly, we cover a new patent application from Apple that reveals the assembly of the fifth generation iPod nano. It was only filed four months ago which begs the question: Why?
The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a newly granted patent for Apple Inc. today that sounds like a real winner. The patent points to a MacBook using a clutch barrel structure that supports both a cellular antenna and rotatable display. This officially announces to the Wintel camp that Apple now has the ability to match or beat the Ultrabook design that is to come to market in 2013 with the Haswell processor. Now we just have to applaud loud enough so as to send Apple a clear message that we want a MacBook Tablet combination device. I mean – why should the Wintel camp have all the fun with their upcoming notebook-tablet with Windows 8 and their new touch-based Metro UI? The iPad is Apple's thunder and they should naturally extend it through to a future MacBook or MacBook Air.
Apple Introduces us to a Next Generation Microstrip Styled Cellular Antenna for Future MacBooks, iWatch and Beyond
The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 13 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. This morning's first granted patent report covers a single knockout patent that has never been revealed before. The patent reveals a next generation microstrip styled cellular antenna that, according to Apple, will be used for future products such as notebooks, a wristwatch and other wearable computers and beyond. It may even be used in covert applications. Yes, another James Bond Classic invention from the Crazy Ones in Cupertino.
While Intel is obsessed with pushing their Ultrabooks into the market to attack Apple's MacBook Air, Apple is working on producing a thinner MacBook Pro for road warriors who need the convenience of an optical drive. Apple's latest invention describes how they propose to minimize the mechanics of an optical disk drive so as to produce a thinner MacBook Pro design in the future.
On September 29, 2011, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a next generation Hybrid Drive that includes both a hard drive and Flash. Intel will be pushing their Smart Response hybrid drive systems for consumer systems in 2012 and Apple's patent would indicate that they intend to have their own solution for future hardware. Uniquely Apple's twist to this drive is that it will handle different types of storage media based on an environmental state of the hybrid drive. If the drive undergoes temperature, vibration or acceleration variances that could cause the hard drive to temporarily fail, the system would save the volatile data to the Flash drive.
On August 25, 2011, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a wild new concept relating to privacy glasses. While the new specs will be applauded by both professionals and multi-player-gamers alike – gamers may get the added thrill of tapping into the specs' 3D capabilities. While we covered Apple's initial patent regarding privacy-mode viewing in May of this year, it appears as though this project has taken on dramatic new twists. As computer users shift more towards using mobile devices like iPads and MacBooks as their primary devices, and use them more and more in public spaces, privacy-viewing is going to be an essential feature for all future mobile devices. Apple is out to be first and more importantly, the best in delivering this essential new feature and/or accessory.
The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 20 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. Our first granted report of the day only covers a single major patent victory of Apple's which covers how they intend to integrating cellular antennas under the keys of both MacBooks and wireless keyboards like that used for the iMac. That revelation of cellular capabilities coming to an iMac is an eye-opener by itself. This is Apple's fourth cellular based MacBook related patent in just the last year and the second which covers hiding the cellular antenna. While we don't know which combination of technologies Apple will use to bring cellular capabilities to both the MacBook and iMac at this time, the important point is that Apple is determined to bring such capabilities to market in the not-too-distant future.
When I think of quality 3D content, one of the first companies that comes to mind is Pixar whose wondrous works have dazzled millions worldwide and made us laugh. It was Steve Jobs who acquired a low key 3D software tool developer company and turned it into a 3D animation powerhouse that finally drove Disney to acquire them in 2006. So do I have faith in Apple being able to reinvent 3D for computer displays and televisions in the future? Duh …Yes, of course – and the good news on this front is that a recent patent application reveals one of the many ways that Apple is preparing to deliver this next generation entertainment beast. Although Apple's patent application goes out of its way to never use the words TV or television, they do describe the shortcomings of wearing 3D polarized glasses in context with a display. If that's not describing a future 3D TV application - then I don't know what is. Then again, it's not only about entertainment anyways. It's also about a future 3D version of OS X or perhaps even iOS. And if you follow Apple's patent history, then you know that such advancements in delivering truer 3D imagery will eventually spill over to other professional fields such as medical, aerospace, gaming and far beyond.
Late last week the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that revealed yet another take on a possible future virtual keyboard for the iMac and other devices. Apple's first major patent concerning larger virtual keyboards surfaced in 2009. Then in 2011a wave of major virtual keyboard patents surfaced that illustrated the depth of Apple's research in this area. In early January Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple gets closer to a Virtual Keyboard for the iMac," and later that month we posted a second report titled "Apple Pushes Research into Motion Keyboards for MacBooks." In May, Apple disclosed the invention of an "Advanced Air Feedback System" and last week Apple revealed their fifth major effort into keyless keyboards by disclosing their new piezo-based acoustic and capacitive detection system which includes a very cool glass based keyboard concept that may be a winner.
To Avoid a Potential Fire Hazard, Apple Invents Pressure-Relief Battery Pouches for Portable Devices
On May 26, 2011, the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals various concepts behind a newly devised pressure-relief battery pouch for portable devices using rechargeable lithium-polymer battery cells. Gas buildup found in most chargeable battery designs could potentially cause the battery cell to swell or explode and even cause a fire. Apple's invention introduces a new series of designs to remedy this potential fire hazard.
This appears to be the year of the keyboard. Apple began the year working on several keyboard projects including one involving a leap to a next generation virtual keyboard system for desktops while working on a secondary parallel bridging keyboard project that involved implementing a hybrid keyboard using advanced motion tracking. In Apple's latest keyboard project, which was published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office, we see a more practical approach to advancing keyboards in the shorter scheme of things by using advanced sensors and a unique air-based feedback system primarily for Mac keyboards. In the longer scheme of things, Apple is actually eyeing the concept of using deformable keyboard systems.
Apple Wins a Surprising iMac & TV Display Testing System Patent + Others for Final Cut Pro, the Apple Store & More
The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 10 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In our second report of the day we cover a great number of Apple's granted patents including one for Final Cut Pro, a design patent for the App Store's icon imagery, another for an Apple Store related system and a few other minor patents along the way. Yet the surprise of the day certainly goes to a quality testing system designed for high-end LCD displays designed for such systems as a television or an iMac. Apple's display's have been a definite cut above their competitors for some time now and learning about this secret testing equipment easily explains one of the reasons for their ongoing success. Attention to quality detailing is Apple's Hallmark.
Apple Patents Detail Fire-Resistant Cabling for MagSafe & New Compass Bearing Feature for the iPhone's Camera
Two of Apple's latest patents that were published this morning by the USPTO detail new fire resistant cabling for MagSafe and a spin-off feature related to the iPhone's "Maps + Compass" feature. This new feature may be engineered right into next generation iOS device cameras allowing users to superimpose compass bearings right onto their photos. Unless you're a spy or surveyor, however, I'm not quite sure why you'd want this feature. If you happen to have an idea or two as to why we'd want this feature, then by all means send in your ideas below in our comment area.
The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of eight newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In our second granted patent report of the day we have a real surprise. Apple has just won a patent for an all-new Hybrid DisplayPort/USB 3.0 high speed connector. This new and extremely slim connector will work on all iOS devices like the iPod and eventually work its way through Apple's entire hardware lineup. Apple has just introduced another high-speed connector called Thunderbolt and we know that they're also working on a new fiber optic based connector for the future. Yet this latest hybrid connector looks like a winner and one that we might see come to market later this year in handhelds or in 2012 when Intel Macs debut with USB 3.0. But let's be honest here: Wouldn't we all like to see this debut on the iPhone 5? Hmm, I think that I'm hearing a thunderous yes on that question.
Yesterday, the US Patent Office published close to 35 patents for Apple and overnight we've dug up a few more interesting ones that we just couldn't get posted in good time. In today's patent report we're going to show you how Apple is advancing on two interesting market fronts. The first involves reinventing the Mini Jack for future wearable and miniature portable devices while the second involves pico-like projectors for portables like the iPhone and MacBook. The patent even hints of home theater and television systems. Curiously Apple is building an interesting portfolio of projector patents that seem to be inching their way to market ever so slowly.
The US Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 22 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. The most interesting patent came to us as a complete surprise this morning as it wasn't originally covered. More than likely, the patent was filed in a way so as to escape the regular channels. The good news is that this patent advances Apple's new antenna system from previous applications. We were first introduced to Apple's intentions for a Telephonic MacBook back in August 2010. This was followed up with two related granted patents for a cellular antenna for a MacBook that were published respectively in September 2010 and February 2011. Apple continues to advance the concept of a Telephonic MacBook which will hopefully see the light of day sometime in the future – hopefully sooner rather than later.
Apple seems to be onto something new of late. They've been exploring the implementation of the smart port into future hardware. It will eliminate the current printed port icons that are on hardware today, such as for Firewire or Thunderbolt in favor of introducing "invisible-like" icons that are created by using micro-perforation techniques. The reason for doing this serves two purposes. The first is to once again refine Apple's hardware aesthetics and the second is to add the ability to introduce active or morphing port icons. These new morphing icons would be able to communicate both the location of a port and/or any danger associated with it.
Apple has been working on utilizing light-transmissive controls for some time now and has actually begun incorporating them into the MacBook Pro. Last week a series of elaborate patents surfaced which provided us with a real in-depth look at some of the advances Apple is making on this front. The most startling design included a keyboard totally comprised of light-transmissive keys; a design that would also be able to reconfigure itself into other user controls such as a key or gaming pad. In today's patent, Apple looks at simpler controls that could be incorporated into the lid of a future MacBook or MacBook Pro to control music.