The same day a video surfaced showing off the near-indestructible glass display of the iPhone 6, Apple on Monday was awarded a patent that would allow it to build electronic device casings made of 100% glass.
In the patent application brought to light by AppleInsider’s Mikey Campbell, Apple notes that sufficiently strong all-glass structures would “make the device heavy and bulky.” Therefore, to ensure the device stays robust but also light, the company’s patent for “fused glass device housings” suggests “multiple glass pieces that are joined using a glass fusing process.”
Basically, the fusing process involves merging the pieces of planar and peripheral glass to form a thick material that can be pounded into any kind of desired shape. In the patent application, Apple mentions “cellular telephones, handheld computers, and portable music players.”
In some of the images attached to the application, Apple shows glass boxes where displays or circuitry could literally be “slid into place,” which could be helpful for larger displays like computer monitors and TVs. In other embodiments, Apple shows how the rear glass panel (opposite to the display) can employ “opaque masking material and coloured glass … [to] hide internal device components from view.”
In other words, Apple could apply some of the iconic design choices from its “Bondi Blue” iMac from 1998 and apply that same translucent look to its iPhones, iPads and iPods.
Apple has plenty of other glass-related patents — retail stores, staircases, you name it — but this particular patent could be made possible thanks to Apple’s new sapphire glass factory in Arizona.
As depicted in Marques Brownlee’s video showing off the scratch-proof sapphire glass display for the iPhone 6, Apple has been able to one-up Gorilla Glass with a material that’s as thin as paper, completely transparent but impossible to scratch or scrape with knives or keys. If the iPhone 6’s display can stand up to the punishment, Apple may consider actually building one of these all-glass devices in the near-future — before any competitors try such a thing. Apple also patented a “crack-proof glass” solution back in 2011.
The inventors of this particular patent, however, include Peter Russell-Clarke, a longtime member of Apple’s industrial design team, inventor Michael Pilliod, and Apple’s design guru and SVP of “human interface,” Sir Jony Ive.