Apple’s patent portfolio may surprise you with what is coming next
We all know Apple as the biggest smartphone dominator with its product portfolio giving top-notch output for its users, but what we don’t know is that Apple’s patent portfolio is exactly the opposite of it.
Apple is famous for iPhones and its ecosystem with fewer product lineups as compared to its competitors but more successful because of their quality. Whereas its patent portfolio is a bit more crowded than its product lineups.
Long ago Apple had patented many technologies which never showed up in their products, but their competitors have already launched products for those technologies.
First in this lineup is foldable displays, where apple has patented this technology in 2016 but still has not manufactured any foldable phones to date. In 2020, Apple has also patented a foldable display with heating elements to solve the problem other companies are facing in foldable phones (breaking of display in cold temperatures). Apart from that apple also has patented a hinge joint to join two or more displays to get a foldable phone. Although the product is never seen we can still see foldable phone display be patented to date by apple. So, we can expect Apple to launch foldable iPhones in the upcoming years.
The second is the periscope camera setup which Apple has recently patented and discloses a camera setup with an adjustable zoom feature. A periscope camera has a light path-folding element that can bend the light entering the lenses to an angle which in combination with multiple lenses will provide a greater optical zoom as compared to currently using a telephoto lens in smartphones. Cameras had become the main selling feature in the smartphone market where phones can now provide 100x digital zoom, this might completely own the trend with Apple’s already present image processing and a flexible zooming camera that can give optical zoom. However, Apple never showed any products with this technology but still expected to be shown in upcoming iPhones.
The third is the patents for coating on electronic devices which they had filled in 2020 and expected to be seen in iPhones sooner than others. This states a coating with variable translucency and gloss at different locations of the glass which will give a different appearance and “feel” to the exterior surface of the texture. The Exterior surface is further covered with an anti-reflective coating. Further, a patent also discloses a color coating for electronic devices which can reflect the color of gold by not using actual gold but instead using a metal nitride film of Ti, Zr, Hf, or Cr. These patents were filled in 202 but their applications were published in 2022 so we might see these updates in iPhone or other Apple devices in upcoming events.
The fourth portfolio is related to Apple’s ecosystem of devices where they have patented “Wearable loops with embedded circuitry” which are rings/bands like wearables that can collect user information like biometrics, health, location, activity, etc. Apart from a user wearing these loops patent also discloses them to be used as keyrings or other stuff to prevent them from not lost. This might give us an idea of a product that will be added to the Apple ecosystem with features of AirTag and other sensors to monitor user health. Further, these devices were also related to NFC payments and give Virtual-reality data for the mixed reality headsets that might be seen on Apple’s product lineup.
The fifth portfolio is the most surprising which dates back above portfolios and is not even related to Apple’s products. This started before the manufacturing of the iPhone when Steve Jobs showed his interest in manufacturing cars but soon was discarded and they focused on iPhones. But Patents portfolio tells a different story where we can see Apple continuously patenting over autonomous vehicles and their control. Patents also disclose about self-drive cars and even processing and control related to electric vehicles related to surroundings. Although in 2014 it was rumored that Apple is testing its car and might launch one soon but with a lack of experience in automobiles and unavailability of powerful processors to handle big data it all went off. But with today’s fastest processors it can be possible to see an Apple car. However, there is no news of this in upcoming years by Apple, but we hope to see this soon.
These are a few observations from the Apple portfolio but there are more to explore as apple patents so many things but very few will make it to the actual product.