Yesterday the US Patent & Trademark Office published a continuation patent from Apple relating to implementing close-to-invisible microperforations that form notification areas with interactive buttons on future Apple devices such as an Apple Watch which is the focus of this latest continuation patent filing.
The redesign would require replacing its current metal casing with one that is made of a glass or glass-like material (“plastic, glass, carbon fiber, ceramic, or other materials”) that would accommodate the “close-to-invisible microperforation” concept as described in the original founding patent and its granted patent.
Close-to-Invisible Micro Notification areas & Interactive Buttons
In January 2019 Patently Apple posted a patent application report titled “Apple Invents Close to Invisible Micro Notification Areas and Interactive Buttons for iDevices, Macs & Apple Pencil.’ Apple’s first granted patent was published in August 2020.
Yesterday the U.S. Patent Office published a continuation patent from Apple that adds new patent- claims to further protect their invention. The products that their invention could relate to overall is illustrated in their patent figures below.
Apple’s patent FIG. 13C above illustrates an Apple Watch. Yesterday’s continuation patent added new patent claims focused on the device being an Apple Watch as noted specifically in patent claim #5 below as follows:
Patent Claim #5. The electronic device of claim 1, wherein: the wall defines a portion of a watch body having a first opening and a second opening; the electronic device further comprises: a display positioned within the first opening; and a crown at least partially positioned within the second opening; and a graphical output of the display is responsive to: a rotation or translation of the crown; and input received along the input region.
Another claim that stood out from those of their first granted patent was claim #9 that appears to be describing a possible new Apple Watch design that may not include a metal case but rather an “opaque masking layer” which isn’t about metal.
The patent claim seems to be describing an area below the glass display that will appear to be a darkened glass that will be able to be lit in certain configurations via an array of microperforations to form buttons that could be symbols or words like “email” as shown in FIG. 13C above.
Patent Claim #9: “An electronic device, comprising: a translucent layer forming an external surface of an electronic device; a sensing element positioned within the electronic device and configured to detect input along an input region defined along the external surface; an opaque masking layer positioned below the translucent layer and defining an array of microperforations; and a light source having an array of selectively operable light elements configured to illuminate the array of microperforations, wherein: the array of microperforations are concealed when not illuminated; in a first mode, the light source is configured to reveal a first illuminated symbol formed by the array of microperforations; and in a second mode, the light source is configured to reveal a second illuminated symbol formed by the array of microperforations.’
Apple’s granted patent had 17 patent claims and their continuation patent contains 20 claims. There are a lot of little things beyond the two main claim standouts. For instance, the continuation patent contains the word “illuminated” 12 times whereas the original granted patent lists this word only twice. The word translucent is used 8 times in the continuation patent versus 3 times in the granted patent. After finding 2 big updates in claims 5 and 9, it’s a matter of finding what is being emphasizing more by trying word counts.
Apple’s invention describes how different haptics could be used to notify a user of a new email, message or, phone call was made. So, if it’s an email, as our cover graphic illustrates, a new illuminated button will be formed on the side of the Apple Watch that the user could force touch (press) to bring the email up on the Apple Watch interface. It could also be a symbol such as to notify a user that the Apple Watch batter is low and needs recharging.
You could review Apple’s continuation patent 20200333897 claims here should you wish to seek out more patterns of how the microperforation are to work on this updated Apple Watch design.