Apple Starts Patenting Ways To Make iPhones & iPads Out Of Liquidmetal

Liquid metal could make your next iPhone silky smooth and incredibly strong.

Liquid metal could make your next iPhone silky smooth and incredibly strong.

Apple has the exclusive license to liquidmetal, prompting all sorts of speculation that we would sooner or later see liquid metal iPhones, iPads and Macs. Despite this, so far, we’ve only seen Apple release one “product” using liquidmetal: the iPhone SIM ejector tool.

But Apple’s liquidmetal plans might be gearing up. The company has just filed five new patents, explaining the process by which it would use liquidmetal to build next-gen smartphones, tablets and digital displays.

Just a reminder, liquidmetal’s major advantage is it’s extremely hard, even compared to aluminum. A little liquidmetal goes a long way, and the result is you can use less of it to make items of equal durability. Imagine thinner, lighter iPhones, iPads and Macs. You get the idea.

Patently Apple describes the new patents this way:

All five Liquidmetal patents published today include the same list of potential products as noted below:

A telephone, such as a cell phone, and a land-line phone, or any communication device, such as a smart phone, including, for example an iPhone, and an electronic email sending/receiving device. It can be a part of a display, such as a digital display, a TV monitor, an electronic-book reader, an iPad, and a computer monitor.

It can also be an entertainment device, including a portable DVD player, conventional DVD player, Blue-Ray disk player, video game console, music player, such as a portable music player (e.g., iPod), etc. It can also be a part of a device that provides control, such as controlling the streaming of images, videos, sounds (e.g., Apple TV), or it can be a remote control for an electronic device. It can be a part of a computer or its accessories, such as the hard drive tower housing or casing, laptop housing, laptop keyboard, laptop track pad, desktop keyboard, mouse, and speaker. The article can also be applied to a device such as a watch or a clock.

We might have to wait awhile for Apple to capitalize on these patents. The reason Apple only makes the SIM ejector tool with liquidmetal is that it’s very hard to work with in volume right now. But someday a few years from now, expect liquidmetal to finally hit Apple’s products in scale.

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About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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