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Apple granted patent for wireless antennas built into Mac keyboards

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office granted Apple a batch of 20 patents on Tuesday, including one for an invention that describes integrating wireless antennas into a keyboard.

Entitled "Antennas for electronic devices," Apple's filing describes "key antennas," or radio-frequency transmitters mounted inside individual keys of a keyboard, for devices such as a laptop computer. Apple suggests that fitting a key with an antenna resonating element, such as a flex circuit containing a strip of conductor, a piece of stamped metal foil and a length of wire, could serve as an improved antenna design.

Possible advantages from the invention include a more pleasing appearance by avoiding protruding antennas and reduced risk of damage to the antenna. According to the application, the antenna would function better when the key was not being pressed because of an "increase in separation" between the antenna and the conductive housing of the device.

Apple also suggests that the key antenna could include an indicator light, such as the one found on the "caps lock" key.



One embodiment of the invention would utilize the keyboard to add wireless functionality to a non-wireless device by way of a wired connection. The keyboard could also be used to extend wireless capabilities of another device after being wirelessly coupled with it.



The invention lists Wi-Fi and Bluetooth as possible communications methods, though it also references the use of the patent with "other types of communications links," such as GPS and 3G data.

Apple filed for the patent on Apr. 2, 2008. Chris Ligtenberg, Brett William Degner and Douglas Blake Kough are credited as the inventors.

The granting of the patent is curiously timed, as it comes just days after an alleged prototype MacBook Pro with built-in 3G cellular functionality appeared in an auction on eBay. The laptop appears to be from 2007 and included an extendable antenna to the right of the display and a SIM card slot.



Though it's not immediately clear why Apple decided not to mass produce the prototype, some have suggested that the external antenna solution would have been easily breakable and was not up to Apple's rigorous design standards. The fact that Apple looked into an in-key antenna solution in 2008 may serve as evidence that the company was unhappy with the extendable antenna found on the prototype.
post #2 of 9
Definitely gets a lot more interesting when you think about having 3G or the proposed 802.22 Networks. Keyboard giving "life" to an unconnected system.
32G iPhone 4, 32G iPad 2, late 2009 15" mbp
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32G iPhone 4, 32G iPad 2, late 2009 15" mbp
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post #3 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdaddyguido View Post

Definitely gets a lot more interesting when you think about having 3G or the proposed 802.22 Networks. Keyboard giving "life" to an unconnected system.

According to cloudgazer, end-users won't be having 802.22 base stations; they're for the telecoms to overcharge us with.
post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdaddyguido View Post

Definitely gets a lot more interesting when you think about having 3G or the proposed 802.22 Networks. Keyboard giving "life" to an unconnected system.

Nice overview at Washington University St. Louis on 802.22

http://www.cse.wustl.edu/~jain/cse57...tp/j_dwrn2.pdf
post #5 of 9
pfft - who wants a keyboard near their head emitting radiation? Stupid concept. The 'aerial' should be as far away from the human body as possible.
post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by wozwoz View Post

pfft - who wants a keyboard near their head emitting radiation? Stupid concept. The 'aerial' should be as far away from the human body as possible.

So what is the alternative? An external antenna tethered by a long cable so you can place it 10-20 feet away from you? Other than this I don't think there are many options for a laptop. It's not like the keyboard is any nearer or farther from your head than behind the screen.
post #7 of 9
I think it could be for Wi-tricity, wireless power charging of devices. Do that and you could use pure fibre-optic cabling to double the Thunderbolt speeds we presently have, while charging the external HDD wirelessly.

Don't forget the presence of wireless electricity at this years CES(2011), everyone was doing it, it's ready now and I believe it could be in iPhones next year (2012).
post #8 of 9
Just don't type that way.
post #9 of 9
This is going to be especially helpful for the iPhone, oh wait it has only one button
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