Apple patent reveals possible curved structure designs for future iMac computers

Apple’s iMac devices have been around for a long time. The design, though sleek and good looking, has been starting to get a little long in the tooth. While the iMac lineup received a spec refresh last year, there haven’t been many reports of a major design refresh. However, a recent patent filing by Apple hints at what the Cupertino giant envisions for a future iMac Pro.

The patent published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on January 23 that was filed in July 2018 details a computing device encased in a glass housing that includes an output device in the form of a display and input devices that are coupled with the glass housing. There are many implementations of this glass housing that houses the computer, with some variants suggesting the possibility of docking a MacBook at the back, likely to use the supporting device as the display.

What’s interesting is that parts of the patent suggest that the enclosure idea seen here might be a vision for not just the iMac, but for a “single piece of glass” that has been molded that can “take the form of or be included in any suitable computing device, including a desktop computer, a laptop, a tablet, a smartphone, an automobile, a wearable audio device, an appliance, an accessory device, or the like”. While imagining that a single sheet of glass can be molded to take the form of an automobile might be taking the idea too far, what stands out is that a foldable- or flexible-screened device made of a single sheet of glass might be what this piece refers to.

The entire patent provides many interesting use cases of such an enclose. The design might be used for a display with a dedicated section for input at the bottom, with some variations suggesting the availability of a dock at the back for ports. Other use cases include the ability to fold the device for storage, a housing with an adjustable curvature - something that looks like a large Surface Pro device with a kickstand - and even a device with an adjustable screen.

The variations also include touch surfaces for input devices such as a touch keyboard, patents for which were spotted earlier as well. The input section at the bottom may also be a single unit, with either side of the keyboard acting as input areas.

While all these images in the patent dont' guarantee that such a device will see the light of the day, it isn't be difficult to imagine that the company could be working on at least some form of a redesign to the device. If future Mac displays come with a docking station for docking your MacBook or employ haptic feedback enabled touch surfaces for input with a curved screen is anybody’s guess.

What do you think of these designs and ideas in the patent? Sound off in the comments below!

Source: USPTO via PatentlyApple, 9to5Mac

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