Apple's research into curved battery technology points to new iOS products designs

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
A pair of patent applications Apple filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reveal the company is working on unorthodox battery designs with curved cells and irregular shapes, suggesting slimmer, more shapely iOS devices could be on the horizon.

Battery
Source: USPTO


The patents filings (1, 2), for "Curved battery cells for portable electronic devices" and "Non-rectangular batteries for portable electronic devices," both describe methods in which a battery can be designed and manufactured for incorporation into slim, new device chassis.

Both filed for on Oct. 28, 2011, the applications call for battery cells to be manipulated during the manufacturing phase in order to facilitate easy installation into curved and non-rectangular device designs.

For example, the invention regarding curved batteries uses industry standard production techniques, which include a set of layers, a cathode, an anode, a separator and active coatings, before manipulating the unit to a given specification. Like some batteries already on the market, Apple's proposed design uses a flexible pouch to enclose the cell layers created by the separator.

Battery
Source: USPTO


The pouch is then exposed to pressure of "at least 0.13 kilogram-force (kgf) per square millimeter" and heat of about 85 degrees Celsius in a set of curved plates in order to set the shape. As noted, this process may take as long as four hours.

In some embodiments, the curve is held by employing a binder coating within the battery cell, which is activated during the curing process to laminate the layers together. The resulting structure would be solid and take the shape of curved plates.

From the filing's summary:
In some embodiments, the curve is formed to facilitate efficient use of space inside a portable electronic device. For example, the curve may be formed at one or more ends of the battery cell to allow the battery cell to occupy a curved and/or rounded space within the enclosure of a laptop computer, tablet computer, mobile phone, personal digital assistant (PDA), digital camera, portable media player, and/or other type of battery-powered electronic device.
In the second application a similar method is employed, but where the former uses pressure and heat to set the shape, the "non-rectangular" property removes material from the battery before stacking the cell layers. An example is given of how a non-rectangular shape can be achieved by removing material from one or more sides of the anode and cathode to form a rounded corner. By utilizing this method, varying thicknesses can be achieved, such as those seen in the fourth-generation iPad.

Battery
Source: USPTO


Both techniques aim to shape a battery that fits snugly into a device's housing, thereby reducing wasted internal space. While merely speculation, the battery designs could be used in an upcoming version of the iPhone or iPad, both of which are becoming increasingly slim as consumers demand thin, lightweight portables.

Also a possibility is the use of such battery design in an iPhone with a "wrap-around" display, the patent of which passed through the USPTO in late March. While it is unlikely that such a device will make it to market in the near future, if ever, the recent patent filings show Apple is continuously looking for innovative ways to save space in its iOS device lineup.

Both patent applications credit Ramesh C. Bhardwaj, John Raff, Stephen R. McClure, Erik L. Wang and Taisup Hwang as their inventors.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 24
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member


    Curved battery? What will they think of next...


     


  • Reply 3 of 24
    chandra69chandra69 Posts: 638member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ascii View Post


    Curved battery? What will they think of next...


     




    Smallest nuclear reactor to power mobile phones. :)

  • Reply 4 of 24
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,901member
    It's obvious Apple's next break through product will be a sex toy!
  • Reply 5 of 24
    nairbnairb Posts: 253member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

    It's obvious Apple's next break through product will be a sex toy!

     

    With on device video editing.
  • Reply 6 of 24
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Wearable computers would likely need curved batteries and other components to match natural contours.
  • Reply 7 of 24
    yanchuyanchu Posts: 5member
    This is probably for the iWatch. A guy I know at Samsung says they are making chips for the next iPhone and watch. He has no reason to not tell the truth but there is no way to verify. I hope it's true.
  • Reply 8 of 24
    ddawson100ddawson100 Posts: 448member


    It was really helpful to see the illustration twice in this article. The first time I was like, what? What's that? Then the second time I was like, oh, I see. It's curved.

  • Reply 10 of 24
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    yanchu wrote: »
    This is probably for the iWatch. A guy I know at Samsung says they are making chips for the next iPhone and watch. He has no reason to not tell the truth but there is no way to verify. I hope it's true.

    Would anyone at Samsung really know what the chips would be used for outside of corporate espionage or simply guessing?
  • Reply 11 of 24
    yanchuyanchu Posts: 5member
    The fact is nobody knows outside of Apple. The chips for the phone and iPad are pretty much will be the same save for a few changes. This is a new chip. He prob just made an educated guess.
  • Reply 12 of 24
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    yanchu wrote: »
    The fact is nobody knows outside of Apple. The chips for the phone and iPad are pretty much will be the same save for a few changes. This is a new chip. He prob just made an educated guess.

    What would probably ring a bell in my head would be if it's very small and power efficient but also highly proprietary, which would rule out the iPod Shuffle.
  • Reply 13 of 24
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member


    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    ... the battery designs could be used in an upcoming version of the iPhone or iPad ...


     


    And maybe also in an upcoming version of the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro.

  • Reply 14 of 24
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member


    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post



    Wearable computers would likely need curved batteries and other components to match natural contours.


     


    Maybe.  It depends on how "wearable" they are and how much power they actually need.  I doubt the iPod shuffle needs a curved battery.


     


    On the other hand, Apple's other non-wearable mobile devices could benefit from the curved battery technology.  This would allow Apple to maintain battery capacity while shrinking enclosures.  By fitting the same battery volume right to the edges of the enclosures, which are all curved in one way or another right now.  (iPad 4th gen: tapered edges, iPhone 4/4S/5: rounded corners, etc.)

  • Reply 15 of 24
    jlanddjlandd Posts: 873member


    As long as they don't return to these kinds of curves we'll be OK


     


     



     


    .


     


     


     


    Not taken from the net, this is from my older 15" MBP.  Had to have the whole body replaced in two stages as the trackpad and then keyboard stopped working.  No, not the battery they said...

  • Reply 16 of 24
    froodfrood Posts: 771member


    I thought Apple already had patented curves.

  • Reply 17 of 24
    curtis hannahcurtis hannah Posts: 1,710member
    More Iwatch stuff!
    This could be just a way to make it bigger in there smaller devices however...
  • Reply 18 of 24
    macky the mackymacky the macky Posts: 4,765member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post



    Wearable computers would likely need curved batteries and other components to match natural contours.


     


    Two words: Liquid Metal enclosures

  • Reply 19 of 24
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

    Two words: Liquid Metal enclosures


     


    Three words: that wasn't two words.

  • Reply 20 of 24
    froodfrood Posts: 771member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    Three words: that wasn't two words.



     


    Four words: that wasn't three words.

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