How Liquidmetal Home Buttons Could Finally Fix The iPhone’s Achilles Heel

liquidmetal

We’ve been waiting for years for Apple to start using Liquidmetal in its products. The company has an exclusive licensing agreement to use the space-age alloy in its products, but until now, the only thing made by Apple of Liquidmetal is the SIM Ejector tool for the iPhone.

That’s not stopping Apple from dreaming about exciting new uses for their T-1000 alloy,, though. New patents from Apple published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office suggest that future pressure sensors, like the home button, could be made of Liquidmetal.

The patent explains the technology like this:

Because switches on consumer electronic devices are operated frequently, the materials used to fabricate the switch must be capable of repeated deformation and return to their original configuration. […]

A proposed solution according to embodiments herein for pressure sensors is to use bulk-solidifying amorphous alloys as the deformable material, and to measure the pressure based on the physical changes of the bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy as it is deformed.

For iPhones and iPads, the home button — one of the device’s few moving parts — is a weak spot. Many of us have had to trudge back into the Apple Store to get our malfunctioning home buttons looked at by the Genius Bar. Looks like Apple is hoping a dollop of Liquidmetal could solve their home button woes, and it certainly seems like a plausible use for their long-errant metal: like the SIM Ejector tools, Apple wouldn’t need to manufacture a lot of Liquidmetal to make this work.

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  • Silverrune

    Don’t care the cost, a Liquidmetal iPhone with sapphire glass would to me, be one of the best phones ever. The durability would be one, if not the best, and your screen would almost be unable to shatter or scratch for that matter.

  • TylerHoj

    Can RF signal penetrate liquid metal? Could Apple potentially make a unibody iPhone without the need of glass or plastic panels? Just a thought, although I do not expect Apple to have enough of the material for mass production on such a grand scale.

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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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