iPhone 5 features NFC and made of special composite

Apple patents are nothing but usual but occasionally one or two stands out. Like this one, for a cosmetically stunning composite material. It may point the way to future indestructible iDevices. A recent Apple patent revealed a likely Future version of the iPhone’s forthcoming e-Wallet icon. There’s nothing like getting a peek of the future is there? Of coursework Apple could be teasing us and change the icon at the last moment.

They suspect that the iPhone 5 will come with NFC built in as they have already heard that Apple are currently working on their new NFC payment technique.

The new material, unearthed by the indefatigable guys at PatentlyApple, would appear to promise a nice-looking and yet super-strong alternative. Here’s how Apple introduces it:

“A composite laminate includes a plurality of sheets of prepreg stacked one over another, and a scrim layer provided on an exterior surface of the sheets of prepreg. Each prepreg sheet is formed of fibers preimpregnated with resin. The scrim layer and the sheets of prepreg form a composite laminate whereby the scrim layer constitutes an outer, exposed surface of the composite laminate. The scrim layer could be a nonwoven carbon or glass fiber scrim that has absorbed resin”

iPhone 5 features NFC and made of special composite

If trawling through Apple’s extensive and expanding patent library teaches you anything, it is patience. You never know if a specific idea–no matter how neat–will ever see the light of day. But they hope the “composite laminate having an improved cosmetic surface and technique of making same” is a sign of things to come. When the iPhone 4 was revealed by Steve Jobs earlier this year, complete with toughened glass on both front and rear faces, our FastCompany.com editor’s chatroom was filled with comments that varied from complimenting its beauty, to worrying about how basically the shiny high-tech bugger would shatter in case you dropped it.

Let’s boil that down. First, a composite material is one made by combining a few different parts in a way that usually maximizes the benefits of all of them: Fiber glass is a simple composite for example, benefiting from the flexibility and durability of the glass fibers, and the sealing properties of the resin matrix the fibers sit in. Because of their benefits over traditional materials like metal or wood, composites are finding homes in all sorts of places from airliners like the Boeing 777 to the latest armor on tanks. And Apple’s composite is a layered structure, made of sheets of some stuff that’re glued together using a resin, in a way that the final done surface is immediately pleasing to the eye. The “stuff” could be carbon fibers or glass fibers, either woven or nonwoven, and they could be either pigmented, opaque or (presumably) translucent.

They know Apple is interested in innovative materials, thanks to its glass-backed iPhone 4 and use of liquid metal, so here’s what they hope this patent means: A drop-proof, shatter-proof and damn-near bulletproof chassis for the iPhone 5, iPod Touch 2011, MacBook, whatever. Apple, thanks to its reputation for high-quality design, high-prices and high product quality now has a vested interest in making your iDevices survivable–unlike lots of vendors which have a vested interest in having you break ’em often, so a composite iPhone would appear an ideal solution.

Apple’s trick appears to be in a smart multiple-layering of the “prepreg” sheets so that even in the event that they include carbon fiber for strength, and electrical-shielding powers they won’t be unattractive to the eye. The patent notes that existing carbon materials are very always black, and that while plastics are often used in transportable devices, composites have lots of benefits. They have even come up with a clever–i.e. patentable–way to basically manufacture this stuff, even when formed around corners in the gadget’s form.

About this entry