15 Apple inventions that show how the company is crafting the future

Apple is always inventing new stuff.

Just this past year, the United States Patent and Trademark Office has published thousands of patents that Apple has both applied for and been granted.

In 2015 alone, it was granted 1,938 patents.

Of course, a patent never guarantees a product — often, published patents or applications are merely proof that a company has investigated an idea.

But looking at Apple patents can be a fun way to look at what the company is working on in its Cupertino labs, and also imagine what an Apple-driven future could look like.

Here are some of the most interesting Apple patents from the past year:

Magnetically detachable earbuds that can switch between wired and cordless.

USPTO

Patent number: 9,277,309

Inventors: Jorge S. Fino

Filed: 2011

A system to let your friends know when autocorrect made a ducking mistake.

USPTO

Application number: 20160117299

Inventors: Christopher Hynes

Filed: July 31, 2015

An phone with an edge-to-edge, wrap-around display.

USPTO

Patent number: 9,367,093

Inventors: Aleksandar Pance

Filed: November 17, 2014

A new kind of laptop keyboard in which the keys don't actually move, but rather sense that you press down.

USPTO

Application number: 20160098107

Inventors: John Morrell, Ron Hopkinson, Peter Arnold, Mikael Silvanto, William Leggett

Filed: September 28, 2015

Additional coverage and images here.

A system that could use how quickly your head is moving to help earbud sound quality. It uses 'bone conduction' to help cut out ambient noise.

USPTO

Patent number: 9,363,596

Inventors: Sorin Dusan, Aram Lindahl, Esge Andersen

Filed: March 15, 2013

A way to use the Apple Watch or another wearable as a 'life alert' urgent care system.

USPTO

Application number: 20160071392

Inventors: Martha Hankey

Filed: September 9, 2015

Micro-LED panels that could be used in a curved 'bracelet or wrist watch.'

USPTO

Application number: 20160163765

Inventors: Andreas Bibl, Hsin-Hua Hu

Filed: December, 2014

A folding long-range lens for mobile devices, like the iPhone.

USPTO

Patent number: 9,316,810

Inventors: Romeo Mercado

Filed: May 30, 2014

A way to change the channel or search for TV listings by using your voice.

USPTO

Patent number: 9,338,493

Inventors: Marcel Van Os, Harry J. Saddler, Lia T. Napolitano, Jonathan H. Russell, Patrick M. Lister, and Rohit Dasari

Filed: September 26, 2014

A new kind of laser detection system (LiDAR) that's possibly useful for self-driving cars.

USPTO

Patent number: 9,277,309

Inventors: Jorge S. Fino

First filed: 2011

A system of plugs and chargers that can stack on top of each other.

USPTO

Patent number: 9,300,083

Inventors: Nathan Bosscher, Eric Jol, Albert Golko, Jeffery Terlizzi, Jahan Minoo

Filed: Septebmer 29, 2014

Additional coverage here.

An Apple Watch band that can also wrap around the device to protect it

USPTO

Application number: 20160007697

Inventors: Erik de Jong

Filed: August 31, 2015

Apple's rumoured to be ditching the headphone jack on its next iPhone. But Apple employees have also dreamed up this invention that would shrink the jack, saving valuable volume.

USPTO

Patent number: 9,142,908

Inventors: Cesar Villarreal, Dominic Dolci, Victoria Spielmann, Ricardo Mariano, Alexander Kwan, James Smeenge, Daniele De Luliis

Filed: May 19, 2014

A motorised screen protector, which, Inspector Gadget-style, will deploy when the user accidentally drops their phone or mobile device.

USPTO

Application number: 20150301565

Inventor: Tyson Manullang, Stephen Lynch, Emery Sanford

Filed: April 18,2014

A 3D-printer that can create multi-coloured objects.

USPTO

Application number: 20150343704

Inventors: Geoffery Stahl, Howard Miller

Filed: May 30, 2014

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