Apple examines use of knitted fabric for iPhone cases – like iPod socks
Apple is examining how to produce iPhone cases from knitted fabric instead of molded silicone, not only like the Apple Watch braided strap, but also potentially like the long-lost iPod socks.
Stop thinking about iPod socks. Apple’s recently granted fabric, textile, and knit patent relates to the manufacture of pressure cases such as silicone. Just made of fabric, and also with options for knitted patterns on the back.
“Personalized fabric cases for electronic devices” is preoccupied by offering an alternative to existing case types – and even becoming a bit critical of plastic cases.
“Electronic devices such as cell phones, computers and other electronic equipment are sometimes used in conjunction with external enclosures,” the patent states. “Removable cases can also be used to personalize electronic devices.”
“Plastic cases may be satisfactory in some situations,” he continues, “but some users may want a case with a different aesthetic. As a result, fabric cases have been developed.”
However, Apple is also not thinking about existing fabric cases. The patent claims that there are limits to the possibility of customization previously and offers new solutions.
“There are challenges associated with forming fabric enclosures for electronic devices,” he says. “A user may have limited choices when it comes to selecting a fabric case for their device. The user may be able to select a desired color, but may otherwise be unable to customize a fabric case according to the requirements. user preferences. “
Each example of a drawing in the patent shows fairly stiff cases, much closer to the design of Apple’s silicone socks than its previous socks. Indeed, while Apple speaks specifically of textile machines, it also wants to be clear that its method of knitting strands can be applied to countless materials.
“[The case] may be formed from plastic, glass, ceramic, composite fibers, metal (eg, stainless steel, aluminum, etc.), other suitable materials, or a combination of two or more of these materials, “the patent states.”[The casing] can be formed using a monocoque configuration in which some or all of the [the] the housing is machined or molded into a single structure or may be formed using multiple structures. “
“The fabric for a removable case can be woven, knitted (eg, weft knitted or warp knitted), or braided, or can be formed using other strand interweaving techniques,” he continues. “For example, the fabric can be knitted using a knitting machine.”
Apple says cases can be designed and “the designer can be a user … or a manufacturer.” Still, Apple is unlikely to designate a home knitting machine. Especially not if the materials are stainless steel or glass.
However, the way Apple is proposing to make these cases more customizable involves producing what it describes as “knitting instructions”.
A user or manufacturer could choose or provide a digital image and then Apple’s process would convert it into a program to create a custom design for the back of the case.
“The back panel may include a knitted image of a digital photograph or other design [and the] the design of the back panel can be customized to suit the designer’s taste, ”says Apple.
“The case can be designed and built using computer hardware and knitting equipment,” he continues. “The computer equipment may receive a digital image selected by the user from the user. The computer equipment may use image processing software to reduce the resolution and number of colors in the digital image to specifications. of the textile machine. “
“Fabric pattern design software can convert the digital image into knitting instructions,” says the patent. “Knitting instructions can be performed by knitting equipment to produce a back panel for a fabric case.”
The patent describes different methods of making a fabric case, but other than when the material is glass, it’s not clear exactly how stiff that case should be. Yet, as presented, it is more than a slip-on protective sock, as it is not a wrap-around holster, but rather a snap-on holster.
This is what really makes it a manufacturing process rather than a home knit. Regardless of the material, however, Apple is determined to create ever more customizable designs for users.
This patent is awarded to four inventors, including Jessica J. Lu. Her previous related work includes iPhone cases that can charge AirPods.
And in case you were wondering, an unused set of iPod socks regularly sells for over $ 100 on eBay.
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