Feeds

Apple files patent for refrigerator-magnet iPads

It's all about aesthetics – and possibly the iWatch

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

Apple has filed a patent application for a method of cladding rare-earth magnets that could enable portable electronics to become refrigerator magnets and iWatch elements.

The filing, "Unibody Magnet", notes that the standard coatings for rare-earth magnets such as those made from neodymium are not necessarily compatible with the appearance of consumer electronics devices.

Neodymium magnets are commonly composed of neodymium, boron, and iron, and thus need to be coated not only because they are brittle, but also because the iron will oxidize if exposed.

There's one problem with the standard neodymium coatings, however: they don't harmonize with Apple's design aesthetic.

"Therefore," the filing contends, "what is desired is a magnet surface coating which can be adapted to match the overall look, shape, and feel of the device to which it is attached."

The filing describes the use of aluminum as a coating, including using cutting tools such as "diamond saws, and wire electronic discharge machining" to shape neodymium magnets into precise configurations that can be fitted into matched receptacles in unibody aluminum device cases such as those used in Apple's MacBooks and iPads.

Image from Apple's 'Unibody Magnet' patent, showing improvements to the MagSafe port in a MacBook

If the MagSafe port can be all aluminum, 'any aesthetic necessity for obscuring the magnet is now overcome'

"Unibody Magnet" goes on to detail the use of such techniques in the MacBook's MagSafe break-away power port and the iPad's Smart Cover. But it also provides a glimpse of other possible uses when the magnetic field is distributed over the whole of a device's rear surface.

Doing so, the filing says, could allow the device to be magnetically attached to "a number of different surfaces, including for example, refrigerators, metallic armbands, or even a wall mounted docking station."

No specific mention is made of a wristband, so possibly the "metallic armband" is intended to be your bicep's home to an iPod or future fitness-training iDevice. But after all, your wrist is part of your arm, and one could envision different "embodiments", in patentese, wherein different iWatch elements with different functions could be magnetically attached to a wristband.

But the most intriguing possibility is that of an iPad or iPad mini that slaps onto your fridge. Wouldn't your life be more complete with slide shows of your kid's photos, your family's to-do list, or Emeril Lagasse's recipes stuck on your Frigidaire?

Too bad for the culinary fashonistas whose refrigerators are clad in non-magnetic austenitic stainless steel – they're going to miss out on all the iPad-mounted fun. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Feast your PUNY eyes on highest resolution phone display EVER
Too much pixel dust for your strained eyeballs to handle
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Report: Apple seeking to raise iPhone 6 price by a HUNDRED BUCKS
'Well, that 5c experiment didn't go so well – let's try the other direction'
Rounded corners? Pah! Amazon's '3D phone has eye-tracking tech'
Now THAT'S what we call a proper new feature
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Nvidia gamers hit trifecta with driver, optimizer, and mobile upgrades
Li'l Shield moves up to Android 4.4.2 KitKat, GameStream comes to notebooks
AMD unveils Godzilla's graphics card – 'the world's fastest, period'
The Radeon R9 295X2: Water-cooled, 5,632 stream processors, 11.5TFLOPS
Sony battery recall as VAIO goes out with a bang, not a whimper
The perils of having Panasonic as a partner
NORKS' own smartmobe pegged as Chinese landfill Android
Fake kit in the hermit kingdom? That's just Kim Jong-un-believable!
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.