One of Apple’s engineering teams has been working on a new kind of protective cover concept that could be applied to a future iPad, iPhone or MacBook since 2013. Apple filed new information regarding this invention back in 2017 and this week the European Patent Office published Apple’s latest patent claim additions. The newly published patent claims now narrowly focuses the device design to being a new MacBook clamshell construction with a built-in flexible hinge design as noted in our cover graphic above. This concept was years ahead of Microsoft’s Surface Book hinge as presented in the graphic below.
Apple’s patent notes that “An enclosure for a laptop may be created from a rigid material having a flexible portion defined around approximately a midpoint of the material. The flexible portion may allow the rigid material to be folded in half and thus acts as a laptop clamshell. A top portion may support a display screen and a bottom portion may support a keyboard, track pad, and the like, while an interior defined by sidewalls of the rigid material may house a variety of electronic components in accordance with conventional laptop computing devices. In this manner, the enclosure (or a portion thereof) may be created from a single rigid material, while still providing flexibility and bending for the enclosure.”
The heart of the patent is well presented in Apple’s patent FIG. 4C below which illustrates a simplified side perspective view of an enclosure including a geometric pattern shown in FIG. 3B with a top portion partially angled with respect to a bottom portion.
Apple’s patent application EP3324265 titled “Interlocking Flexible Segments formed from a Rigid Material” was published by the European Patent Office on Wednesday May 23, 2018. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
As with any continuation patent, it’s here in the patent claims that we’re able to see any changes, additions or focus changes surface. Below is a Scribd document courtesy of Patently Apple of the patent claims from this week’s European Patent.
You will notice that for the first time, Apple is emphasizing the design being applied to a MacBook in patent claim #11.
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