A new Apple patent was published on Thursday, and it fits well in line with the company’s “strange patent” M.O. According to the patent’s description, it looks as though the product in question is a woven display, which Apple could use on their upcoming MacBook models or (more likely) the next Apple Watch.
The display will actually be a series of individual fibers that will transmit light. The fibers themselves will not have an electric currents going through them, but will instead carry the light that is transferred from an electric base.
The reason for a display like this is pretty obvious, as many companies are moving toward flexible screens for phones and other devices, and of course Apple doesn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to perfect something that other manufacturers are working on.
The patent details
According to the new Apple patent’s application, “… the embodiments include light pipe fibers woven into the fabric as light guides to visually display indications or messages to a user of a portable electronic device.” For example, if you were to receive a message or email on your iPhone, perhaps these woven fibers would also display the message – much in the way the Apple Watch does, but with light fibers and fabric instead of a small glass display.
The Apple patent goes on to describe these light fibers being woven into actual fabric. By weaving the fibers into the fabric, the device would be more suited as a wearable or cover of some sort.
Why a woven display?
As the patent application goes on, Apple gives us an answer. Many portable devices today can be carried around by using a tether or strap so they don’t fall out of our hands – much like a Wii remote comes with a strap so we don’t throw it through our TV when we’re bowling in a virtual game.
According to Apple, “While useful for such purposes, these tethers are generally decorative and serve no useful information providing, or other utilitarian, function other than for aesthetic purposes.” Basically, Apple thinks the wrist band attachments that we use to ensure we don’t lose our devices can be upgraded to serve a better purpose. The thought process make sense, although I’ve never looked at the band on my Wii remote and thought “gee, I wish you could make me more productive.”
Thinking about it further, Apple could definitely be onto something. What if this patent is so they can make a line of “smart clothing.” Remember the last clothing line they had, though? That didn’t go so well.
Plus, I’m not too keen on the idea of seeing someone’s Tinder notification pop up on their shirt while on a date. The patent also shows images of other possible uses for the woven display, including bands for the Apple Watch, and even secondary computer displays made of the woven fabric.
As cool – and mysterious – as this patent sounds, is it something Apple is actually considering? The company has had some patents in the past that are pretty far-fetched. Then again, we all thought they were crazy when they filed a patent for the Touch Bar we now see on the newer MacBook Pro, and now we love them. Either way, it’ll be interesting to see what Apple does with this woven display patent.