The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Thursday published a patent application by Apple for a unique ceramic based electronic device housing, which suggests that Apple intends to refine its use of the material in future products such as the Apple Watch.
Apple patent may relate to the Apple Watch
The patent application discovered by Apple Toolbox today, entitled “CERAMIC COVER FOR ELECTRONIC DEVICE HOUSING”, describes the use of advanced ceramic materials with unique “laser ablated” recesses (laser ablation is the process of removing material from a solid surface by irradiating it with a laser beam) and where the thickness of the ceramic cover is about 0.3-1.0 millimetres.
As portable electronic device continue to be made smaller, thinner and/or more powerful, there remains a continuing need to provide improved structures for portable electronic device housings – Apple patent application.
The patent application describes in detail “an electronic device having an enclosure formed from at least one ceramic cover and a peripheral structure adjacent the periphery of the ceramic cover is disclosed. The peripheral structure can be secured adjacent to the ceramic cover with an attachment member. The ceramic cover can include a recess to receive the attachment member. The peripheral structure can be moulded adjacent the ceramic cover so that a gapless interface can be formed between the peripheral structure and the periphery of the ceramic cover.”
Ceramic is currently popular in watchmaking to make high quality watch cases, due to its light weight and scratch resistance, such as used in luxury watches such as the IWC Top Gun. Expensive watch cases ore often made of black zirconium oxide, which is one of the most hard wearing materials used in watch design.
Notably, ceramic materials are already used on the back of the Watch and Watch Edition (not the Watch Sport which has a composite back), and Apple states “the ceramic cover may comprise a relatively hard ceramic such as sapphire or zirconia. Indeed, the ceramic cover may be substantially harder than commercial glasses used in mobile telephones”.
Apple also describes an electronic device where the ceramic cover is substantially transparent, perhaps indicating that the ceramic material might even be used as a screen cover – however sapphire is already used on two of the three Watch collections.
The diagrams in the patent text are sufficiently abstract that it’s not explicitly clear how they intend to use the ceramic process described, however, all evidence suggests that the Watch is the most likely explanation even though it is noted explicitly mentioned.
The Apple patent application filed today credits Kelvin Kwong of San Jose, CA as the inventor of U.S. Patent Application No. 20140334077.
You can read more Apple Toolbox posts about the Watch below:
Roland Banks has been passionate about Apple for more than a decade. He started his career at British Telecom’s research division working on collaborative virtual reality environments, before becoming a video streaming specialist at 3 UK where he helped launch some of the world’s first mobile video services.
Roland moved to Asia 4 years ago, where he writes about his passion for all things Apple.