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Apple jobs: carbon composites, iPhone cameras, MacBook design

post #1 of 44
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As always, Apple is expanding its workforce; new postings, however, suggest that the company is investigating a return to carbon elements in its computers, expanding the iPhone's camera functionality, and prepping for the next generation of MacBooks.

Senior Carbon Composite Engineer

Apple may be making a return to the use of carbon composites in its products, according to a new job listing for an experienced carbon composites engineer.

Poised to work at Apple's Cupertino, California main campus, the engineer would help develop new parts out of carbon and function as the Mac maker's primary carbon materials expert -- including the chief advisor on when and how to use composites in new products.

While Apple is not specific as to the nature of any products it might make using carbon, the posting is unusual for the company and recalls the company's past experience in notebook design. Long-term Mac veterans will remember that the original, titanium PowerBook G4 used carbon composites for its supporting framework to maintain a stiff design without significantly affecting weight.

Current MacBooks are not known to use carbon framing or outer shells.

iPhone Photo and Camera Apps Developer

Not content with the relatively basic camera and photo management software on today's iPhone, Apple is searching for a developer at its main campus to bring both capturing and browsing imagery "to the next level," a recent posting says.

In addition to experience with the needed operating system skills, the role would also need experience with manipulating images and camera metadata, such as the EXIF tags that reveal information about the hardware and settings used to take photos.

As of the present day, the camera on the iPhone is limited to capturing still photos without zoom or flash, and allows users to browse photos as well as e-mail them or set them as wallpaper.

MacBook Hardware Design Engineer

The most far-reaching of Apple's more recent job postings, listed at the start of this month, seeks a design engineer to help produce the "next generation" of the company's MacBook line.

The designer would primarily be responsible for nurturing the creation of the portables from their very conceptual beginnings to the final production stage, and would address virtually every aspect of the systems from board layouts to heat concerns and power use.

Apple has listed multiple jobs for MacBook design engineers since October, suggesting a renewed concentration on the design of the company's computers. However, most previous postings before now have been more specialized and focused on specific stages of development rather than the entire platform.
post #2 of 44
Finally an update to the photo skills on the phone!!!
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post #3 of 44
Interesting ... based on these job postings I would think MacWorld 2009 may be the perfect venue to launch a redesigned MacBook.
post #4 of 44
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post #5 of 44
Hmm, if they are looking for experts in composites, they should look for bicycle engineers. This peoples has manage to create strong lightweight bikes.

Hmm, I wonder if MacWorld 09 will introduce new MacBook (it is possible though, its in January rite?)
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post #6 of 44
and good time for some one new to say $1500 for on board video that uses system ram is a joke next to other systems ati is working on haveing low end on board video with it's own ram.
post #7 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by amac4me View Post

Interesting ... based on these job postings I would think MacWorld 2009 may be the perfect venue to launch a redesigned MacBook.

I was thinking exactly the opposite.
If they are still trying to hire the person to do the design, there is no way we will see any new design for the book, no carbon based products, and no real changes to camera technology anytime in the next 12 months.

That of course would mean, these hirings would not produce anything by Macworld.

This is not to say they haven't got neat stuff in the pipeline, just that the things they are looking for can't be pulled together that fast if you're still trying to hire.....
post #8 of 44
Just out curiousity where do you find these postings?
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post #9 of 44
Quote:
Apple may be making a return to the use of carbon composites in its products, according to a new job listing for an experienced carbon composites engineer.

When has Apple ever used carbon composites in its products? I've followed Apple for years (first Mac = 128K Mac) and I don't recall them ever using carbon anything.
post #10 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by wbrasington View Post

If they are still trying to hire the person to do the design, there is no way we will see any new design for the book, no carbon based products, and no real changes to camera technology anytime in the next 12 months.

To the extent that they are not already working on these projects and will only ever have
one person working on each project, you may be correct.
post #11 of 44
Carbon frameworks?! AAAAIIIIIEEEEEEE!

Oh, wait, they literally mean carbon, like the element, not the enemy of Cocoa? Oh, that's a whole 'nother thing. <emilylitella>Never mind.</emilylitella>

I hope they put down as one of the benefits of becoming the iPhone camera engineer: the everlasting gratitude of macFanDave (at least) and being regarded as a hero! If the camera were just a DECENT 2MP camera, it would add another dimension of brilliance to the iPhone.

Sure, working for Apple would be great . . . salary, benefits, et cetera, et cetera, but the opportunity to become one of macFanDave's personal heroes? That's special!

PS: If you feel the same about the sub-mediocrity of the iPhone camera, I will hope you will also express your feelings about how this person can meaningfully improve your life.
post #12 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by gruth View Post

When has Apple ever used carbon composites in its products? I've followed Apple for years (first Mac = 128K Mac) and I don't recall them ever using carbon anything.

Psst. Everybody that works there is carbon-based!
post #13 of 44
Is it me or should they have hired a few of these people awhile ago...it seems like they are behind the curve a bit. The MacBook Pro/Powerbook design, while still functional is 5-years-old. To me, it makes Apple seem a little less nimble than they use to be when it came to their product design. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't make me want to rush out and buy a Dell or HP or anything but it's just a mere observation....
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post #14 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by wheelhot View Post

Hmm, if they are looking for experts in composites, they should look for bicycle engineers. This peoples has manage to create strong lightweight bikes.

There's a fundemental difference that might be a stumbling block tough, bikes are mostly tubular and curved, whereas notebook shells & frames are quite flat with some ridges on the edges. There was a discussion on carbon fiber computer parts a while back. There was some question as to whether carbon fiber can be mass produced at a worthwhile cost vs. other light materials when made in the millions of units. CF is almost ideal for low production stuff, it has a very low cost of entry relative to many other production techniques, but it is relatively complicated and tedious when compared typical higher volume production techniques.

Quote:
Hmm, I wonder if MacWorld 09 will introduce new MacBook (it is possible though, its in January rite?)

Product design cycles are probably too long for that if they're starting the project with this person.


Quote:
Originally Posted by gruth View Post

When has Apple ever used carbon composites in its products? I've followed Apple for years (first Mac = 128K Mac) and I don't recall them ever using carbon anything.

From the article:
"Long-term Mac veterans will remember that the original, titanium PowerBook G4 used carbon composites for its supporting framework to maintain a stiff design without significantly affecting weight."

I can't say I've heard of this myself, it would seem to be something they'd promote, maybe they wanted to promote the titanium part exclusively.
post #15 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by ecking View Post

Just out curiousity where do you find these postings?

http://www.apple.com/jobs/
post #16 of 44
I am dumb. What are carbon composites, exactly?
post #17 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark View Post

I am dumb. What are carbon composites, exactly?

A composite material is made up of at least two parts--rather than a single material, such as steel or aluminum (at the macroscopic level). Typically, a fiber (such as carbon) is embedded in a matrix material (such as epoxy). In high performance applications, structures are built up in layers. The fibers are oriented in such a way that strength and stiffness can be optimized for each particular use. Composite structures can be significantly lighter than metal parts designed for the same conditions. The aerospace industry was the main developer of composites for this reason. They're used in many different areas now, which has helped bring the high cost down over the years.

Fiberglass is another type of composite material. The fiberglass you've seen in boats and Corvette bodies is not built up in layers, but made of chopped fibers in an epoxy matrix. This is much cheaper to make, but not as strong/stiff.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Composite_material
post #18 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by F1Turbo View Post

A composite material is made up of at least two parts--rather than a single material, such as steel or aluminum (at the macroscopic level). Typically, a fiber (such as carbon) is embedded in a matrix material (such as epoxy). In high performance applications, structures are built up in layers. The fibers are oriented in such a way that strength and stiffness can be optimized for each particular use. Composite structures can be significantly lighter than metal parts designed for the same conditions. The aerospace industry was the main developer of composites for this reason. They're used in many different areas now, which has helped bring the high cost down over the years.

Fiberglass is another type of composite material. The fiberglass you've seen in boats and Corvette bodies is not built up in layers, but made of chopped fibers in an epoxy matrix. This is much cheaper to make, but not as strong/stiff.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Composite_material

Carbon fiber?? hire sony or acer ppl..
post #19 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by F1Turbo View Post

Fiberglass is another type of composite material. The fiberglass you've seen in boats and Corvette bodies is not built up in layers, but made of chopped fibers in an epoxy matrix. This is much cheaper to make, but not as strong/stiff.

I just had to point out an inaccuracy here. Your better boats are very much made up of layers of fiber glass or carbon fiber. For many of the reasons you mentioned. Interestingly there are a number of approaches to getting this done too. The most common being the laying of fiber matts or rolls of cloth into a female mold of the hull.

This doesn't stop the use of chopper glass in the hull but the structural components are often built with the traditional layer approach with the layers carefully optimized for strength.

Just had to point this out as I've been looking at boat construction for some time.

Dave
post #20 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by BMWintoxication View Post

Carbon fiber?? hire sony or acer ppl..

Not the best material to use for computer casings.
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post #21 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark View Post

I am dumb. What are carbon composites, exactly?

not to be an ass, but seriously? I really hope you are < 13 yrs old. Anyways, whats stopping you from trying wikipedia first? 5 seconds away...
post #22 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by WJHMH View Post

Not the best material to use for computer casings.

why is that? I would like to know the cons, other than cost.
On the other hand, I don't follow material sciences day to day, and I wonder if there are any newer ultra-light/strong composite materials or "doped" polymers or something else entirely available to innovative companies such as Apple for special projects (Air v2.0?) Carbon nanotube shell, anyone?

That being said, I think I would trust steel/aluminum/titanium more when I'm flying on an aircraft. Have to watch the 787/dreamliner progress or whatever it's called, eh?
post #23 of 44
Sweet, Apple is looking for a MacBook designer to design the new MacBook touch, a carbon fiber engineer to assist with the MacBook touch chassis (no optical, low power chips & a SSD mean less heat; therefore not needing the conductive properties of Al…) and an improved iPhone camera to drop into the new carbon fiber MacBook touch…!!!

Yeah, that's right, I said it. MacBook touch, the new 13.3" multi-touch slate tablet from Apple!

:^p
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post #24 of 44
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Originally Posted by winterspan View Post

That being said, I think I would trust steel/aluminum/titanium more when I'm flying on an aircraft. Have to watch the 787/dreamliner progress or whatever it's called, eh?

I really don't think there's a problem as long as it's properly designed. There is already a flight history of composite materials. Scaled Composites appears to have made at least 30 different models of aircraft, including several that broke world flight records. F22 and A380 are two major aircraft models already flying with composite parts.
post #25 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacRonin View Post

Yeah, that's right, I said it. MacBook touch, the new 13.3" multi-touch slate tablet from Apple!

:^p

...which won't be out for another 2 years at best, considering the people who are going to design it haven't even been hired yet, much less come up with some mockups...

If I had my hopes pinned on a MacBook Touch, I would pray that the hiring and designing happened in '06 or '07.
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post #26 of 44
I've always thought that Apple would consider Carbon Fiber or similar materials for their laptops (particularly, the MBA for weight reasons). As far as I've seen, Carbon tends to be black, so it would fit their natural product transition, plus its probably fairly environment friendly which also fits into Apple's 'green' initiative.

if sony, why not apple?
post #27 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by winterspan View Post

not to be an ass, but seriously? I really hope you are < 13 yrs old. Anyways, whats stopping you from trying wikipedia first? 5 seconds away...

Yes, you're being an ass. I was looking for a more simple & concise explanation than the entry at Wikipedia, which is rather long and technical. Hence my opening line.

Nice to see that these boards still have their share of jerks along with everything else.
post #28 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by winterspan View Post

why is that? I would like to know the cons, other than cost.
On the other hand, I don't follow material sciences day to day, and I wonder if there are any newer ultra-light/strong composite materials or "doped" polymers or something else entirely available to innovative companies such as Apple for special projects (Air v2.0?) Carbon nanotube shell, anyone?

That being said, I think I would trust steel/aluminum/titanium more when I'm flying on an aircraft. Have to watch the 787/dreamliner progress or whatever it's called, eh?

It does not act as a heat sink. The bottom of an alu MacBook Pro is pulling heat away from the CPU heat sink as a purposeful design. Without that relatively (to the need) large volume of heat conducting aluminum Apple would need a lot more fan action inside that casing. That means weight and power drain.

Carbon fiber can be significantly lighter but is generally a little bulkier and definitely more expensive to manufacture in an engineered strength manner. Cool factor is un-approached though if you can see past the heat and cost issues.
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post #29 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

I really don't think there's a problem as long as it's properly designed. There is already a flight history of composite materials. Scaled Composites appears to have made at least 30 different models of aircraft, including several that broke world flight records. F22 and A380 are two major aircraft models already flying with composite parts.

Don't worry, military fighter pilots and helicopter have proven carbon fiber lay-ups are well understood and incredibly durable in aircraft. F-18s and helo rotor blades are primarily carbon fiber and both apply stresses commercial airliners won't ever see per unit volume. They have flown flown for a couple decades allowing any long term issues to crop up, and no unexpected ones have. Better yet, CF does not corrode like aircraft aluminum does making it better and safer over the long haul.
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post #30 of 44
Carbon Composite... isn't that what happens to you when you don't pay off Jabba the Hutt in time? pooor Steve jobs!!!

lol sorry i couldn't resist.

post #31 of 44
Mg alloyed ?
post #32 of 44
I couldn't wait! Last night I finished my prototype MacBook Air Carbon Fiber lower housing (pics). It looks pretty good, but since it was my first carbon fiber project, I've got some technique-refining to do. It's lighter than the aluminum, and the corners are very strong but the center is a bit flimsy. My next version will have reinforcements in that area.
post #33 of 44
you should've used finer grid CFs....

but i am pretty sure Apple won't do it this way with CF weaves... so played out IMHO.
post #34 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

There's a fundemental difference that might be a stumbling block tough, bikes are mostly tubular and curved, whereas notebook shells & frames are quite flat with some ridges on the edges. There was a discussion on carbon fiber computer parts a while back. There was some question as to whether carbon fiber can be mass produced at a worthwhile cost vs. other light materials when made in the millions of units. CF is almost ideal for low production stuff, it has a very low cost of entry relative to many other production techniques, but it is relatively complicated and tedious when compared typical higher volume production techniques.

At least in the bike industry, carbon fibre is so easy to do that unskilled labour can build carbon fibre bikes. It takes a lot longer to train a welder. I once remember seeing taiwanese workers rolling carbon sheets around magic marker pens to create the tubes for some silly mega expensive top end bike brand. I've ridden steel/aluminium/ti ever since.

I'd imagine in computer parts they would either use plain sheets with carbon thermoplastic corners, which again a trained monkey could build or an automated product line into a mold.

Carbon fibre looks shit though. It's the computer equivalent of black ash furniture with chrome bits.
post #35 of 44
[QUOTE=BMWintoxication;1223489]you should've used finer grid CFs..../QUOTE]

Yeah, I agree. That's all the local store had. I was happy enough to find it, and happy that it was twill!
post #36 of 44
Is it in any way significant that the camera applications job asks for someone with experience of writing multi-threaded code? Is this a default requirement for such a job, or an indication of the future integration of a multi-core processor into iPhone? (However much that might seem inevitable.)
post #37 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by lonepilgrim View Post

Is it in any way significant that the camera applications job asks for someone with experience of writing multi-threaded code? Is this a default requirement for such a job, or an indication of the future integration of a multi-core processor into iPhone? (However much that might seem inevitable.)

It already is multi-cpu and multi-core.
post #38 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by morcheeba View Post

I couldn't wait! Last night I finished my prototype MacBook Air Carbon Fiber lower housing (pics). It looks pretty good, but since it was my first carbon fiber project, I've got some technique-refining to do. It's lighter than the aluminum, and the corners are very strong but the center is a bit flimsy. My next version will have reinforcements in that area.

Even lighter? Wow. Using it as a frisby yet?
Bottom thingies kinda tarnish the look of it. But otherwise lookin' good!
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post #39 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by wbrasington View Post

I was thinking exactly the opposite.
If they are still trying to hire the person to do the design, there is no way we will see any new design for the book, no carbon based products, and no real changes to camera technology anytime in the next 12 months.

I'm thinking more WWDC 2009. By then Intel will have released the Calpella platform which will include the Clarksfield and Auburndale variants of the Nehalem CPU. Mac OS 10.6 should also be ready by WWDC 2009.

What a great opportunity to commemorate the Mac's 25th anniversary by bumping the OS to the next level, and completely refreshing the Mac line (by eliminating the front side bus, which Calpella makes possible).
post #40 of 44
What would be really cool, is to allow me to print my images directly from my iPhone. Of course storing images on my iPhone from my camera would be equally as cool.

And why can't i store files on my iPhone like i do images, music, or vids

heck, why can't i 'see' Numbers files but i can Excel files

Great toy, lots of work needed to be done though.
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