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Apple patent describes all-glass casing for devices

A new US patent awarded to Apple details some uses for housings of electronics made of fused glass.

An illustration in Apple's patent of a potential all-glass housing for an electronic device. US Patent and Trademark Office

Apple was awarded a new US patent this week that considers the possibility of an electronic device housed entirely by glass.

The patent, reported by AppleInsider, describes a process of fusing glass pieces together by heating them at high temperatures, allowing for invisible or barely visible joint lines.

The use of the patent in general was to provide "improved glass structures for electronic devices," with the document noting that it was important to ensure glass strength but not at the expense of making a device overly large or heavy. The process described in the patent could help Apple continue in its effort of creating simplified and contained designs for its products, with quite a few of them -- such as the iPhone -- lacking large openings such as an openable back cover.

It was hard to ascertain exactly what devices could be created using the all-glass housing, since Apple's patent seems to generally describe "electronic devices," but mentions monitors, televisions, tablets, and cell phones when discussing all kinds of housings, including metal, plastic, glass, ceramic, or a composite of those materials.

Devices such as smartphones, tablets, and music players often include glass front or back covers, or both. In one example shown in the patent, Apple considers a media player with an all-glass housing, with either a colored or transparent rear surface. Here's an illustration of such a device that's included in the paperwork:

US Patent and Trademark Office

The inventors named on the patent are Peter Russell-Clarke, Michael Pilliod, and Apple's design chief Jonathan Ive.

An Apple representative wasn't immediately available for comment.