Apple awarded three new patents

Overnight, the USPTO granted Apple patents on a smart stylus, magnetic iPhone camera lenses and a solar-powered laptop.

Overnight, the USPTO granted Apple patents on a smart stylus, magnetic iPhone camera lenses and a solar-powered laptop.

(Credit: Apple/USPTO)

Apple sure has been busy. The US Patent and Trademark Office has awarded the tech giant three new patents overnight for a smart tablet stylus that can gauge the angle of the shaft and act like a pencil; a magnetic lens that perfectly aligns with the iPhone's camera; and a laptop with a solar panel embedded in the lid for mobile charging.

The stylus patent, called "Stylus orientation detection", isn't for a physical object so much as the detection system that can tell how you are holding the stylus and adjust the line accordingly. Much like a pencil, a more upright angle would produce a finer line, while a lower angle would produce a wider one. It would do this using capacitance to tell how far the body of the stylus is from the surface of a tablet.

(Credit: Apple/USPTO)

In 2010, the company applied for a patent on a system that would provide the user haptic or audio feedback when using a stylus, although nothing has eventuated from that patent to date.

The "Magnetic add-on lenses with alignment ridge" is exactly what it sounds like: additional lenses that may be securely attached with magnets around the iPhone's camera for taking different kinds of photos. The "alignment ridge" is the part that fits it exactly to the iPhone, while a voice coil motor would allow moving parts, such as an extending lens.

(Credit: Apple/USPTO)

It sounds a lot like a slightly fancier version of products already available on the market for various smartphones.

It also patented "Back panel for a portable electronic device with different camera lens options", which describes a case with a removable back panel enclosing camera lenses that align with the iPhone's camera.

Finally, the rather unassumingly named "Electronic device display module" is a little more complex than it sounds. It describes a laptop that's pretty much like a normal laptop — only the top housing has a display screen on the inside and a rectangular plate on the outside.

"The rear plate may be formed from electrochromic glass," the patent reads. "Photovoltaic cells may be located under the rear plate and may produce power when activated by an external light source. Touch sensors may be located under the rear plate and may gather touch input. A control unit may be used to process touch commands on the rear plate to perform functions such as unlocking a magnetic latch that holds the upper housing to the lower housing."

It sounds extraordinarily useful — but, as with most patents, don't expect to see it surface in the real world anytime soon.

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