Apple patents show convertible tablet, MagSafe optical data connector

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Patents granted to Apple on Tuesday reveal that the company could be working on a device that converts from standard laptop form to tablet form as well as a magnetic connector that provides both power and an optical data connection.



Laptop to tablet



In a Nov. 30 patent entitled "Application Programming Interfaces for Scrolling Operations," Apple depicts a laptop that slides into tablet form as an example of a device that would take advantage of the patent's scrolling operations.



The drawings first show a laptop with a traditional keyboard, body, display frame and display. Then, according to the patent, "the laptop device can be converted into a tablet device" by sliding the display across the keyboard.



Since the patent relates to scrolling operations, it would presumably not cover the convertible laptop to tablet form factor. Apple does, however, disclaim in the application that the patent contains "specific exemplary embodiments."



"It will be evident that various modifications may be made thereto without departing from the broader spirit and scope of the disclosure as set forth in the following claims. The specification and drawings are, accordingly, to be regarded in an illustrative sense rather than a restrictive sense," reads the patent.









In its recent revision. to the MacBook Air line, Apple took features from the iPad, such as "solid state storage, instant-on, amazing battery standby time, miniaturization and lightweight construction."



Apple CEO Steve Jobs said during the ultra-thin laptop's unveiling that he and his company had asked themselves, "What would happen if a MacBook and an iPad hooked up?" With both a touchscreen and a keyboard, laptop and tablet configurations, these figures from the scrolling operations patent reveal the possibility of an even closer integration between the two products.



One cable to rule them all



In another patent awarded Tuesday, Apple seeks to reduce the number of cables connected to a laptop device to a single connector that would provide both a power and data connection.



One drawing of the invention depicts what appears to be a MagSafe-like connector attached to a "power and data adapter" with optical, USB, Ethernet, and DVI ports. The adapter would function as both a power brick and a port hub.







Another drawing features a MagSafe connector that splits off into a fiber optic cable with a data adapter and a DC power cable with a power transformer.







The patent could be a first look at Apple's planned implementation of Intel's Light Peak optical cable technology. Intel is reportedly readying Light Peak for an early 2011 release, and Apple is expected to quickly incorporate the technology into its Mac line of computers.



Intel claims Light Peak has a bandwidth of 10Gbps and will scale up to 100Gbps over the next decade. "Optical technology also allows for smaller connectors and longer, thinner, and more flexible cables than currently possible," states Intel on its website.



Apple early on expressed heavy interest in Light Peak, "pushing" Intel to bring it to market. The cabling technology likely appeals to Apple because it would allow the company to roll networking, display, and peripheral cables into one master cable. Tuesday's patent reveals that the Cupertino, Calif., company is attempting to go one step further and bundle an optical cable with a power cable for an even more elegant solution.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 52
    Full article



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Patents granted to Apple on Tuesday reveal that the company is working on a device that converts from standard laptop form to tablet form as well as a magnetic connector that provides both power and an optical data connection.



    Laptop to tablet



    In a Nov. 30 patent titled "Application Programming Interfaces for Scrolling Operations," Apple depicts a laptop that slides into tablet form as an example of a device that would take advantage of the patent's scrolling operations.



    The drawings first show a laptop with a traditional keyboard, body, display frame and display. Then, according to the patent, "the laptop device can be converted into a tablet device" by sliding the display across the keyboard.



    Since the patent relates to scrolling operations, it would presumably not cover the convertible laptop to tablet form factor. Apple does, however, disclaim in the application that the patent contains "specific exemplary embodiments."



    "It will be evident that various modifications may be made thereto without departing from the broader spirit and scope of the disclosure as set forth in the following claims. The specification and drawings are, accordingly, to be regarded in an illustrative sense rather than a restrictive sense," reads the patent.









    In its recent revision. to the MacBook Air line, Apple took features from the iPad, such as "solid state storage, instant-on, amazing battery standby time, miniaturization and lightweight construction."



    Apple CEO Steve Jobs said during the ultra-thin laptop's unveiling that he and his company had asked themselves, "What would happen if a MacBook and an iPad hooked up?" With both a touchscreen and a keyboard, laptop and tablet configurations, these figures from the scrolling operations patent reveal the possibility of an even closer integration between the two products.



    One cable to rule them all



    In another patent awarded Tuesday, Apple seeks to reduce the number of cables connected to a laptop device to a single connector that would provide both a power and data connection.



    One drawing of the invention depicts what appears to be a MagSafe-like connector attached to a "power and data adapter" with optical, USB, Ethernet, and DVI ports. The adapter would function as both a power brick and a port hub.







    Another drawing features a MagSafe connector that splits off into a fiber optic cable with a data adapter and a DC power cable with a power transformer.







    The patent could be a first look at Apple's planned implementation of Intel's Light Peak optical cable technology. Intel is reportedly readying Light Peak for an early 2011 release, and Apple is expected to quickly incorporate the technology into its Mac line of computers.



    Intel claims Light Peak has a bandwidth of 10Gbps and will scale up to 100Gbps over the next decade. "Optical technology also allows for smaller connectors and longer, thinner, and more flexible cables than currently possible," states Intel on its website.



    Apple early on expressed heavy interest in Light Peak, "pushing" Intel to bring it to market. The cabling technology likely appeals to Apple because it would allow the company to roll networking, display, and peripheral cables into one master cable. Tuesday's patent reveals that the Cupertino, Calif., company is attempting to go one step further and bundle an optical cable with a power cable for an even more elegant solution.



  • Reply 2 of 52
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    A convertible tablet from Apple could be very nice, I guess, although i don't quite get the equivocating language. Are they claiming that they seek to patent the whole idea of a convertible, so they shouldn't be held to whatever implementation they've depicted? Surely not.



    As far as yet another adventure in crazy Apple I/O land, lord God help us all. If they want to put additional connectors on a power adapter, great. But I fear it would an excuse to remove all ports from the body of the machines, forcing us to rely on a crowed little dongle to connect to anything other than wirelessly.



    Oh, and whaddyaknow-- "first."
  • Reply 3 of 52
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,652member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addabox View Post


    A convertible tablet from Apple could be very nice, I guess, although i don't quite get the equivocating language. Are they claiming that they seek to patent the whole idea of a convertible, so they shouldn't be held to whatever implementation they've depicted? Surely not.



    As far as yet another adventure in crazy Apple I/O land, lord God help us all. If they want to put additional connectors on a power adapter, great. But I fear it would an excuse to remove all ports from the body of the machines, forcing us to rely on a crowed little dongle to connect to anything other than wirelessly.



    Oh, and whaddyaknow-- "first."



    Seems to me that power "adapter" is basically an external dock. \
  • Reply 4 of 52
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


    Seems to me that power "adapter" is basically an external dock. \



    Which would be cool, but as I say, I fear that if Apple heads this way it will be in order to remove ports from the body of their machines.



    OTOH, now that I think about it, a power adapter is the one accessory most people keep with their laptop at all times, so at least you'd be likely to have it around if you needed to hook something up.
  • Reply 5 of 52
    An Apple laptop that also acts like an iPad is inevitable.
  • Reply 6 of 52
    simtubsimtub Posts: 277member
    This could further miniaturise the build of devices as currently the industrial design has to allow dimensional factors like the usb and rj45 sockets which you can see constraints the thinness at certain areas on the macbookair. Downfall is having to carry around the external power supply with all the connections if you were on the go and needed to say plug in a usb drive into your device.
  • Reply 7 of 52
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by simtub View Post


    This could further miniaturise the build of devices as currently the industrial design has to allow dimensional factors like the usb and rj45 sockets which you can see constraints the thinness at certain areas on the macbookair. Downfall is having to carry around the external power supply with all the connections if you were on the go and needed to say plug in a usb drive into your device.



    Maybe this thing is specifically designed for the convertible, as a way to split the difference between the iPad's single dock connector and the needs of a laptop user. When you've got it in pad mode, it barely seems any different from an iPad. When you slide the screen up and plug it in, you've got all your ports and keyboard.



    Of course, this also suggests either a hybrid iOS/OS X of some sort, or a dual OS on the fly switching capacity. The tricky part would be to provide some way of moving data between those operating systems.
  • Reply 8 of 52
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,157member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mister Snitch View Post


    An Apple laptop that also acts like an iPad is inevitable.



    It will most likely be an iPad that convert into a laptop
  • Reply 9 of 52
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    Patents do NOT reveal what Apple is ?working on.?



    Apple patents tons of wild ideas, very few of which are ever intended to be products?and not all of the ones that do even make it to market. They?re often patents ?just in case? they (or someone else) ever wants them. Apple?s huge patent portfolio is one of its strengths, but a lot of stuff never leaves the portfolio.



    This looks like an idea that won?t see the light in this form?although I do expect a gradual merger of iOS and Mac OS as the years go by, and that will indeed mean more ways to have a physical keyboard on an iOS device.
  • Reply 10 of 52
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Patents granted to Apple on Tuesday reveal that the company is working on a device that converts from standard laptop form to tablet form







    How can a "laptop to tablet" form factor be patentable? The idea was implemented a decade ago.
  • Reply 11 of 52
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Let?s all jump on joshong for quoting the entire article. Way to go, Newb!





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addabox View Post


    A convertible tablet from Apple could be very nice, I guess, although i don't quite get the equivocating language. Are they claiming that they seek to patent the whole idea of a convertible, so they shouldn't be held to whatever implementation they've depicted? Surely not.



    These patent look very familiar to me. I think I saw these when they were first submitted. In either case, I think a convertible notebook could happen, but as much as Apple hates moving parts and with the release of the new MBAs I?d wager it would be a good two years before it would hit the market.



    Quote:

    As far as yet another adventure in crazy Apple I/O land, lord God help us all. If they want to put additional connectors on a power adapter, great. But I fear it would an excuse to remove all ports from the body of the machines, forcing us to rely on a crowed little dongle to connect to anything other than wirelessly.



    Think LightPeak. Sure, it?s "protocol independent? but there will need to be a physical layer conversion from optical to copper with various ports for whatever connection type one wants to make. This is one accessory I?d expect Apple to release alongside LightPeak.



    Another issue is the eventual conversion of iDevices to optical. I don?t think it?s possible for Apple to use the 30-pin connector with the unused copper FireWire pins being turned into optical ports. If that is true, they may have offer some way to convert the optical signal from iDevices back to copper outside the iDevice for older PCs. Even if LightPeak itself isn?t adopted by Apple, they will eventually adopt some optical connecter so this is an impending issue at some point.
  • Reply 12 of 52
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addabox View Post


    Which would be cool, but as I say, I fear that if Apple heads this way it will be in order to remove ports from the body of their machines.



    OTOH, now that I think about it, a power adapter is the one accessory most people keep with their laptop at all times, so at least you'd be likely to have it around if you needed to hook something up.





    Trying to figure out what the other end of that cable is going to look like. Normally it just plugs into the 120VAC wall outlet.
  • Reply 13 of 52
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addabox View Post


    Which would be cool, but as I say, I fear that if Apple heads this way it will be in order to remove ports from the body of their machines.



    OTOH, now that I think about it, a power adapter is the one accessory most people keep with their laptop at all times, so at least you'd be likely to have it around if you needed to hook something up.



    I think sfocal?s comment is on target, whether it be an Apple Display with a single connector to charge the machine and connect all ports with a single cable, or be a stand alone docking bay, but I doubt they would be removing ports. In fact, I think that once the ODD goes we?ll actually get additional ports as more will fit since it would free up over 5? of port-side space.
  • Reply 14 of 52
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    Trying to figure out what the other end of that cable is going to look like. Normally it just plugs into the 120VAC wall outlet.



    I’d think the ports would be on the power supply. Remember that the DC plug is interchangeable with a 6” DC power cable and plug.



    Also note that one of Voodoo’s innovation with the now defunct Envy 133 ultra-light notebook was an Ethernet 10/100 jack in the power supply that would transmit WiFi to the noteboook. This may seem dumb but like the MBA it was too thin for an RJ-45 jack, but if you only have a wired connection you could still access the net and even make it a WiFi hotspot without using a dongle and taking up a USN port, like with the MBA.
  • Reply 15 of 52




    anything to declutter and streamline the I/O of a device/laptop is a nice welcome.
  • Reply 16 of 52
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by سیب View Post


    How can a "laptop to tablet" form factor be patentable? The idea was implemented a decade ago.



    US patent law is very vague. If there are a few distinguishable differences from a previously patented invention a new patent can be granted. If there is a conflict, the complaints are decided in court, not by the patent office with the original filing. Welcome AI. What does your handle translate to in western phonetics?
  • Reply 17 of 52
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    I?d think the ports would be on the power supply. Remember that the DC plug is interchangeable with a 6? DC power cable and plug.



    Also note that one of Voodoo?s innovation with the now defunct Envy 133 ultra-light notebook was an Ethernet 10/100 jack in the power supply that would transmit WiFi to the noteboook. This may seem dumb but like the MBA it was too thin for an RJ-45 jack, but if you only have a wired connection you could still access the net and even make it a WiFi hotspot without using a dongle and taking up a USN port, like with the MBA.



    Whoa. Totally lost me.
  • Reply 18 of 52
    This also seems like a nice place to put the optical drive, if they're going to remove that too.
  • Reply 19 of 52
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone


    Trying to figure out what the other end of that cable is going to look like. Normally it just plugs into the 120VAC wall outlet.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    Whoa. Totally lost me.



    Perhaps I misunderstood what you were saying. I’m addressing how the power supply could be designed and used an example that has already been on the market. It sounded like you are focusing on the part of the power supply that extended to the pronged connector. Think of the Airport Express.
  • Reply 20 of 52
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by simtub View Post






    anything to declutter and streamline the I/O of a device/laptop is a nice welcome.



    I love it how the iMac picture has the mouse and keyboard USB cables coiled to utmost meticulous perfection, for added effect.
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