Apple Files Patent For Hybrid Notebook
April 5, 2013

Apple Patent Describes Marriage Of iPad And MacBook

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Earlier this week, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) released another Apple patent filing for a product that will very likely never see the light of day. Such patent filings are quite common, yet the products that Apple does plan to release aren´t revealed so easily. This time the patent released details about a tablet laptop hybrid, a la Asus Vivo Tab, Dell XPS 10, or Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13.

It wouldn´t be an Apple patent without a twist here and there, of course. This patent details a system wherein the two pieces of this mash-up pie can communicate wirelessly with one another. The bottom part could even act as a wireless charging station, feeding power to the tablet portion through the air.

Patently Apple has the story and apparently believes that this is a very real product which Apple has been working on since 2008.

The basic functionality of the product described in the patent filing is just as it´s seen elsewhere. When combined, the keyboard and screen portions can be closed with a latch. When opened, the thing looks like a MacBook, with one exception — the screen can be swiveled around and closed. The display will be fully touch-enabled and when disconnected from the keyboard body, it could work like an iPad.

Apple would have to fiddle with their operating systems to have the detached screen work like an iPad, of course, but the general idea remains.

According to Patently Apple, the screen, “may include a touch sensing or other input mechanism, such as a capacitive touch sensor, to allow the screen to further function as an input device for the computing device. This type of input functionality may be helpful when the display is removed from the base.”

The screen and keyboard described in the patent filing are held together magnetically. Once detached, the two can communicate with one another wirelessly via Bluetooth, WiFi or a 60 GHz wireless chip.

The patent filing also describes a method by which this detached display could also communicate with other devices like smartphones and cameras, and maybe even other detached screens.

A beheaded laptop is never a pretty sight, and Apple has taken this into consideration. Rather than have exposed ports, supports or wires when the screen leaves the body, the magnetic and spring-loaded support members would retract back inside the enclosure. Once the screen is brought back home, the support members would jump out to meet the screen and attach it to the body.

Perhaps the most interesting detail about this patent filing is Apple´s mention of wirelessly charging the detached screen.

The same support parts that are responsible for holding the screen in place would also provide power to the screen when it´s docked. Yet when the screen is separated from its body, the same support members could continue to transfer power through “capacitive inductance or other wireless power transfer mechanisms,” all from inside the body.

Patently Apple has given this article the headline “Finally! Apple reveals their Hybrid Notebook Tablet Details,” later admitting that this is just a patent filing, meaning that Apple may or may not have plans to bring such a mash-up machine to market.

This patent was filed in 2011, a year before Tim Cook made his famous comments about hybrid operating systems, calling them a convergence between a toaster and a refrigerator.

“Anything can be forced to converge,” said Cook last April when asked about the then-upcoming Windows 8.

“But the problem is that the products are about tradeoffs. You begin to make tradeoffs to the point where what you have left at the end of the day doesn´t please anyone.”

On the other hand, the words of an Apple CEO are not always hard and fast, and just because Tim Cook snubbed the idea then doesn't mean that he won´t one day change their mind.

It still seems unlikely, however.