iMac could be made from a single glass sheet in the future

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited September 7
The redesign of the 24-inch iMac could one day be replaced by a more striking version, with Apple continuing to consider producing an iMac suspended in a single sheet of curved glass.




Apple's introduction of the 24-inch iMac was a major event, as the company overhauled the traditional appearance and mechanics of the iMac into something more like an iPad Pro. The large screen in a compact enclosure and held in the air by a small stand was a more minimalist approach to the computer's design.

With the introduction of one new design format, Apple's attention has to turn to the follow-up. If Apple wanted to go more minimalist, it may have to consider how the main screen is held up, possibly by introducing a glass or transparent stand.

In a patent granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday titled "Electronic device with glass housing member," Apple is considering just that very concept. Rather than using a stand, Apple thinks it could create an iMac that is held in the air with a curved sheet of glass.

The patent application first surfaced to AppleInsider in January 2020, but has only just been granted. It was originally filed on May 1, 2019.

The suggestion is that the glass consists of an L-shaped piece, with a large flat section incorporating a curved element, followed by another short flat area. The large section holds the display, which can be attached to the back side of the glass, so the glass sheet itself can protect the screen and have a seamless appearance.

The single glass sheet could have a lip used to hold a keyboard.
The single glass sheet could have a lip used to hold a keyboard.


The lower section could be used as part of its system for holding the larger section vertically, acting as a large foot. This lower lip could be assisted by a wedge section, propping up the entire curved assembly.

The wedge performs double duty, as it could be used to hold most of the heavier components to minimize the weight being held up by the glass. Shifting the wedge could allow for the angle of the glass sheet to vary, giving users a way to adjust the screen's viewing angle.

The short lip may be used to hold the keyboard, mouse, and trackpad, with a hole in the glass potentially used to feed cables through. On a more extreme level, a large slit could be used, allowing a MacBook Pro or another notebook's lower keyboard section to be slid in from behind, as a form of dock.

If the curved section of the glass is made to be flexible, it could be feasible for it to fold upwards, parallel to the main glass area. This could be useful for storage, keeping the keyboard out of the way when not in use.

The left shows the potential wedge used to prop up the glass. On the right, how it could be used to dock a MacBook.
The left shows the potential wedge used to prop up the glass. On the right, how it could be used to dock a MacBook.


The patent lists its inventors as Keith J. Hendren, Paul X. Wang, Adam T. Garelli, Brett W. Degner, Christiaan A. Ligtenberg, and Dinesh C. Mathew.

Apple files numerous patent applications on a weekly basis, but while the existence of a patent indicates areas of interest for its research and development teams, it doesn't guarantee the ideas will be used in a future product or service.

Apple has many patents under its belt relating to the use or manipulation of glass for its products. For example, it has numerous filings relating to a wrap-around display for an iPhone.

These have also included creating "fused glass device housings" that can create a seamless all-glass casing for hardware, with no gaps.

Apple has also looked into ways to make glass thinner and stronger, adding elements like ceramic particles for strength, and even using glass in flexible displays.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    No like from my side: curved forms are rarely fine. 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 2 of 13
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,405member
    Google’s development team now rushing to produce something similar ASAP.
    mac daddy zeewilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 13
    Fixing the keyboard to the display is ergonomically terrible and makes no sense in a desktop computer. My keyboard is on an adjustable tray, 14 inches below the bottom edge of my iMac display and 11 inches in front of it, tilted backwards 10 degrees. I will purchase no computer that doesn't allow me to replicate this geometry, which eliminated my nearly debilitating RSI pain over 20 years ago.
    uraharawilliamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 13
    thttht Posts: 4,088member
    Yeah, I'm curious what the strategy that Apple is using here with this DOA L-shaped design. It's probably either an individual passion/patent project or something that doesn't reflect what they will end up going with, but will have similar elements.

    The floating glass look was already done with the iMac G4. They used plastic, but it was essentially a "floating display" encased in a clear frame. Apple can implement a version of that with Apple silicone as I think it is thicker than the iMac 24. Have a standardize connector/mount and it's basically there. Apple has a nice magnetic one with the Pro Display XDR.

    The L-shape plus back mounted box looks like a DOA design idea to me. None of it works imo. Not that many people will have a keyboard right next to the display like that. It's just too close. The rear mounted stand, computer box combo is for chips from a different era and it only makes the foot print even worse than the already atrocious bottom of the L.
    williamlondonmuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 13
    bsimpsen said:
    Fixing the keyboard to the display is ergonomically terrible and makes no sense in a desktop computer. My keyboard is on an adjustable tray, 14 inches below the bottom edge of my iMac display and 11 inches in front of it, tilted backwards 10 degrees. I will purchase no computer that doesn't allow me to replicate this geometry, which eliminated my nearly debilitating RSI pain over 20 years ago.
    Agreed, terrible ergonomics. 
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 13
    Which would you rather have: an iMac made out of a single piece of curved glass or one which allowed you to easily upgrade the RAM and SSD and which fully supported the right to repair?
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 7 of 13
    Which would you rather have: an iMac made out of a single piece of curved glass or one which allowed you to easily upgrade the RAM and SSD and which fully supported the right to repair?
    Troublemaker...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 13
    That design would be massively impractical.  You'd sit too close to the screen to use the keyboard and couldn't see the screen unless it was tall enough for you to sit up straight.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 13
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,903member
    It's just a patent guys, Apple is never going to sell this.
    watto_cobraJWSC
  • Reply 10 of 13
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 1,033member
    Crowley is right.  People are reading too much into the curved aspect of the patent.  It is the concept of a single printed sheet that is essential to the patent.  If Apple’s competition is actually dumb enough to take this patent literally and copy it, wonderful, cause it ain’t what Apple will actually do.

    This is the next generation of 3D printing where all components, including CPU/GPU, memory, I/O, and display, are printed on a single multilayer sheet sandwiched between glass panes.  Hypothetically, they could do the same with a touch sensitive keyboard, which should definitely be separate - no argument there.
  • Reply 11 of 13
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,658member
    Looks more like a monitor that connects by feeding a computing device (laptop/desktop) into the foot hole.
    Looks like the computing device could be interchangeable.

    But just a patent drawing.

    This one would be good by today's standards but nada.

  • Reply 12 of 13
    thttht Posts: 4,088member
    crowley said:
    It's just a patent guys, Apple is never going to sell this.
    I think everyone knows this. It's part of the fun though. Every once in a while, you see a patent that did make it into a shipping product. That gives these obviously nonviable patents some room for some fun discussion because it shows some of designs running inside Apple.

    Eg, there was the touchscreen iMac patent that goes all the way back to 2010, at least:


    This patent illustrates that they were thinking about a touchscreen iMac in at least the 2008 to 2009 time frame. There is some grain of truth to Jobs' "gorilla arm" comments on why they weren't going to have touchscreen Mac. It was not some random comment used to diminish touchscreen displays on Windows laptops. They thought about, even for the iMac, and decided it wasn't worth it.

    Goes to say that the vast majority of patents are nonviable patents, patents for patents sake, or ideas they don't productize. Still fun to look at.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 13 of 13
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 1,033member
    mattinoz said:
    Looks more like a monitor that connects by feeding a computing device (laptop/desktop) into the foot hole.
    Looks like the computing device could be interchangeable.

    But just a patent drawing.

    This one would be good by today's standards but nada.

    Why not go the full nine yards and put macOS on an iPhone and sync the iPhone to a large screen with keyboard and mouse.
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