Patent on Velcro-like Liquidmetal fastener could be used to prevent Apple device tampering

Posted:
in General Discussion edited October 2015
A U.S. patent application published on Thursday illustrates a Velcro-like fastener concept, but using the amorphous alloy technology Apple picked up through a licensing deal with Liquidmetal.




Although the filing, first discovered by AppleInsider, goes into detail about the manufacturing process, the fastener concept itself is simple, consisting of a series of hooks and/or loops allowing two surfaces to attach either permanently or semi-permanently.

The patent is particularly concerned with using mechanisms to deter tampering with electronics, "by either the normal users of a product, package, or system or others with physical access to it." There's claimed to be a need for a fastener that would either prevent tampering, or render itself and/or the device it was attached to non-functional afterwards.

The patent was originally filed in March 2012, and is credited to people previously linked with Liquidmetal patents such as Christopher Prest and Quoc Tran Pham. The assignee is Crucible Intellectual Property, a Liquidmetal subsidiary.

Apple could conceivably use amorphous alloy fasterners as a way of blocking access to the innards of its devices. Typically, the company denies warranty service to people who try to conduct their own repairs or upgrades. Alternately it could use the technology to combat theft.

The company has had exclusive access to Liquidmetal patents since 2010, but done relatively little with them. At least some iPhone SIM pins have been made using Liquidmetal material, but even products like the Apple Watch use more conventional metals for their cases, despite the Liquidmetal option being up to 1.5 times harder than stainless steel. The expense of mass manufacturing is likely Apple's main obstacle.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    [SIZE=4]well, I didn't see [B][I]that[/I][/B] coming...[/SIZE]
  • Reply 2 of 23
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,051member

    Seems like it would be too brittle for that application, but maybe not.

  • Reply 3 of 23
    So the "walled garden" now includes razor-wire?
  • Reply 4 of 23
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,002member

    iFixit will not be amused.

  • Reply 5 of 23
    bocboc Posts: 72member
    lkrupp, and I as a consumer won't be happy either. We have to be able to fix our expensive products as Apple will not do so after a given number of years.
  • Reply 6 of 23
    hmm
  • Reply 7 of 23
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,287member
    Boy this is going to piss off the circle jerk at iFixIt.
  • Reply 8 of 23
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,546member
    Why? Who would Apple be stopping? Is there a tinkering problem that we don't know about??
    jkichline wrote: »
    Boy this is going to piss off the circle jerk at iFixIt.

    iFixit can grind their way in if need be, they don't need to re-assemble.
  • Reply 9 of 23
    This isn't an Apple patent, rather it is a patent filed by the owners of the LiquidMetal patent. This patent filing is over 3-years old. While Apple most likely has a license to this process, Apple has done nothing with their LiquidMetal license. They may have licensed LiquidMetal as a defensive maneuver to prevent a competitor from developing the product
  • Reply 10 of 23
    imt1imt1 Posts: 87member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Sandman619 View Post



    This isn't an Apple patent, rather it is a patent filed by the owners of the LiquidMetal patent. This patent filing is over 3-years old. While Apple most likely has a license to this process, Apple has done nothing with their LiquidMetal license. They may have licensed LiquidMetal as a defensive maneuver to prevent a competitor from developing the product

    I believe with Apple's Exclusivity License they retain the ownership of any developments made under the agreement. 

  • Reply 11 of 23
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,947member
    imt1 wrote: »
    sandman619 wrote: »
    This isn't an Apple patent, rather it is a patent filed by the owners of the LiquidMetal patent. This patent filing is over 3-years old. While Apple most likely has a license to this process, Apple has done nothing with their LiquidMetal license. They may have licensed LiquidMetal as a defensive maneuver to prevent a competitor from developing the product
    I believe with Apple's Exclusivity License they retain the ownership of any developments made under the agreement. 

    They're not the only ones with a license agreement. The Swatch Group also has a license for use on timepieces.
  • Reply 12 of 23
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 18,603member
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    They're not the only ones with a license agreement.
    Nor is LiquidMetal the company the only one selling a product like liquid metal. The Turing phone uses something similar created and supplied by a different company and calling it Liquidmorphium. Soup made from zirconium, copper, aluminum, nickel and silver? Yeah, supposedly.
  • Reply 13 of 23

    Wonder if they could use this type of system, or something like it, to attach parts to their boards? It would have to be pretty small though. Might not even be feasible since it would require nonstandard connections. But it could work for Apple-made parts. I doubt it, but you never know with Apple. If anyone could find a different way of doing things, it's them.

  • Reply 14 of 23
    i don't see this as useful to a phone necessarily. Maybe this is for the applecar. I'm sure there are plenty of parts that you don't want cleetus to jimmy open with a screwdriver.
  • Reply 15 of 23
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,947member
    i don't see this as useful to a phone necessarily. Maybe this is for the applecar. I'm sure there are plenty of parts that you don't want cleetus to jimmy open with a screwdriver.

    If Cleetus is jimmeying it, what is Jimmy doing? :lol:
  • Reply 16 of 23
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,421member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Sandman619 View Post



    Apple has done nothing with their LiquidMetal license.

    Not true, they've made some industry leading SIM ejectors tools!

  • Reply 17 of 23
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    jorgie wrote: »
    So the "walled garden" now includes razor-wire?

    wake me up when it's not just a rumor on a website.
  • Reply 18 of 23
    Any reason
    dasanman69 wrote: »
    If Cleetus is jimmeying it, what is Jimmy doing? :lol:

    Jimmy open with a screwdriver. Jimmy need focus. Go check on moonshine cleetus.
  • Reply 19 of 23
    palegolaspalegolas Posts: 1,250member
    I'm wondering if liquid metal will eventually find its major use, or if it'll stay an experimental thing. I'm thinking the Apple Car could be a project where manufacturing has to see huge inventions anyways, so maybe there's place for Liquid Metal there? Perhaps not Velcro assembly, lol, but in some form.
  • Reply 20 of 23
    Apple licensed Liquidmetal in the field of consumer electronics worldwide which leaves open licensing for companies in other markets. Apple is only licensing for 2-year terms which could indicate that they may not have a big plan for its use.
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