Apple Patents ways to strengthen iDevice Cover Glass while adding NFC to assist iDevices transition to Vehicle Networks

On Thursday the US Patent & Trademark Office published two patents that are covered in this report. The second patent covers the intricacies behind strengthening iDevice glass. The first patent covers how iDevices transition or will transition to a vehicle, plane or home network. Apple was granted a patent for this invention in August and yet their engineering team is already delivering a new extension or "continuation" to their invention via their patent claims.

System & Method for Transitioning to a Vehicle Network Resource

Apple's invention generally relates to the use of network resources, and, more specifically, to transitioning between networks may they be for a vehicle, aircraft, smart home or security.

Our cover graphic, Apple's patent FIG. 3, illustrates a multifunctional device interacting with network resources of a vehicle; FIG. 5 below illustrates a multifunctional device interacting with network resources of an aircraft; FIG. 6 illustrates a vehicle transition module for interacting with network resources of a vehicle.

2 IN PLANE COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM

The main addition to Apple's patented invention is found in their patent claim 8 that adds NFC. Apple notes that "The multifunctional device of claim 8, wherein the instructions executable on the one or more processors to detect in the multifunctional device the vehicle network advertisement beacon over a first communication channel further comprise instructions executable on the one or more processors to detect in the multifunctional device the vehicle network advertisement beacon over a near-field communication connection."

For those wanting to explore this invention, the key patent points are found between numbers 0111 and 0134 which cover the following topics: automotive integration; general vehicle integration; Use in public spaces and conveyances; and vehicle transition module.

In creating smart home systems, Apple further notes that the system described in this patent will also apply to in-home security, appliances and entertainment systems.

Asymmetric Chemical Strengthening of iDevice Cover Glass

Apple notes that while conventional chemical strengthening is effective, there is a continuing need to provide improved and alternative ways to strengthen glass, particularly, thin glass.

Apple's invention covers asymmetrically strengthened glass articles that enhance the reliability and safety as compared to symmetrically strengthened glass articles. Various embodiments encompass an asymmetrically strengthened cover glass for use with an electronic device, where the cover glass is designed to reduce or limit damage resulting from an impact, for example, a drop.

The cover glass includes three different stress patterns resulting from asymmetric strengthening, a first stress pattern corresponding to corner zones of the cover glass, a second stress pattern corresponding to straight edge(s) or straight perimeter zones of the cover glass, and a third stress pattern corresponding to the remainder or center zone of the cover glass

In other aspects, ion-diffusion barriers and ion-inclusion coatings can be coated on the first zone and/or second zone so as to permit formation of the stress patterns. One ion-diffusion barrier is composed of silicon nitrate. Another ion-diffusion barrier is composed of silicon dioxide.

Some methods of asymmetric strengthening include immersing a sodium-infused glass article in a potassium ion bath, while preferentially transporting the potassium ions at a predetermined surface of the glass article. In some aspects the immersing of the sodium-infused glass article in the potassium ion bath is accompanied by submitting microwave radiation to the same predetermined surface of the glass article.

3 APPLE PATENT STRENGTHEN THIN COVER GLASS  PATENTLY APPLE NOV 2017

In the illustrative FIG. 13 above an electric field is established in an appropriate ion bath to preferentially diffuse the ion across the target surface of the immersed glass article. As shown, a glass article #1304 in need of asymmetric chemical strengthening is positioned in the ion bath #1300 between a positive #1306 and negative electrode #1308. Electron flow through the external circuit #1310 allows the bath ions, potassium for example, to flow toward the negative electrode and thereby into the front surface #1302 of the positioned glass article (shown as arrow #1312). The increase in ion concentration at the front surface of the glass article provides for an asymmetric strengthening of the front surface, as the front surface will have an increase in ion diffusion, as compared to the back surface #1314 of the glass.

Apple's patent FIG. 15 above illustrates another Embodiment herein which includes forming asymmetrically strengthened glass articles 1500 through immersion of glass article clad layers 1502 in the chemical strengthening bath 1504, where each glass article in the clad layer has a different starting ion concentration and composition. A clad layer having a first and second glass article is then strengthened using the chemical strengthening processes described herein to provide two glass articles with asymmetric strengthening.

Apple began to use this Technology for the iPhone 6's cover glass. I couldn't find Apple's marketing on this any longer but you could read about it in the 2014 Daily Mail report here. Apple's current patent indicates that they're continuing to work and improve on this process in an evolutionary manner. Some of the original work on this process actually started back in 2012 as reported on in our 2013 report.

For those curious enough to want to explore Apple's patent application 20170334770, you'll find distinct areas outlined in this invention titled as follows:

Chemical strengthening; Pre-Heating to Increase Glass Density Prior to Chemical Strengthening; Chemical Strengthening of Preferred Edge Geometries; Stress Profiles; Asymmetric Chemical Strengthening; Asymmetric Strengthening via Masking or Coating; Thermal Assisted Asymmetric Chemical Strengthening; Local Asymmetric Strengthening via Paste and Heat; Electric Field Assisted Asymmetric Chemical Strengthening; Asymmetric Strengthening via an Introduced Pre-Bend; Asymmetric Strengthening Different Clad Layers; Chemical Strengthened Glass Article Bundles; Asymmetric Strengthening Glass Articles Having a Concentration Gradient; Mechanical and/or Chemical Modifications to Tune a Stress Profile; Asymmetric Chemical Strengthening During Glass Article Production; Asymmetric Chemical Strengthening to Manage a Fracture Pattern; Designing a Cover Glass to Reduce Damage, or the Propagation of Damage, Caused by an Impact; Flattening Asymmetric Stress Profiles; Compensating Asymmetric Chemical Strengthening With Forming; Optimized Glass Article Design Based on Stress Distribution; and Glass Forming to Compensate for Asymmetric Chemical Strengthening, example.

Who knew that strengthening cover glass for iDevices would be this mind-bogglingly complicated? Why didn't they just bathe the glass in crazy glue and be done with it? Ha!

This is why once in a while I like to cover a somewhat boring patent filing to show Apple fans that beyond hot device designs and concept patents are thousands of intricate utility patents filed each year. While they may be considered boring to most, the fact is that they illustrate that the smallest of details are meticulously attended to by Apple's engineering teams so as to ensure that a hot device like the iPhone X delivers a slick experience from the cover glass right through to the A11 Bionic processor.

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