Apple examining use of knitted fabric for iPhone cases – like the iPod Socks

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Apple is analyzing the right way to produce iPhone instances from knitted material as an alternative of molded silicone, much like not simply the braided Apple Watch band, but in addition probably just like the long-gone iPod Socks.

Put the considered iPod socks out of your thoughts. Apple’s newly granted patent about materials, textiles, and knitting, is for making snap-on instances like its silicone ones. Simply constructed from material, and likewise with choices for knitted designs on the again.

“Customized material instances for digital gadgets,” is anxious with offering an alternative choice to current forms of case — and even will get a bit of crucial of plastic ones.

“Digital gadgets comparable to mobile telephones, computer systems, and different digital tools are generally used along with exterior instances,” says the patent. “Detachable instances may be used to personalize digital gadgets.”

“Plastic instances could also be passable in sure conditions,” it continues, “however some customers might want a case with completely different aesthetics. In consequence, material instances have been developed.”

Nevertheless, Apple would not assume a lot to current material instances both. The patent claims that there are limitations over simply how a lot customization has been potential earlier than, and proposes new options.

“There are challenges related to forming material instances for digital gadgets,” it says. “A consumer might have restricted decisions in relation to choosing a material case for his or her system. The consumer might be able to choose a desired coloration, however might in any other case be unable to customise a material case in accordance with the consumer’s preferences.”

Each instance drawing within the patent reveals fairly inflexible instances, far nearer to the design of Apple’s silicone ones than its earlier socks. That is as a result of though Apple does particularly speak about textile machines, it additionally needs to be clear that its methodology of knitting strands collectively can apply to numerous supplies.

“[The case] could also be shaped of plastic, glass, ceramics, fiber composites, steel (e.g., stainless-steel, aluminum, and so on.), different appropriate supplies, or a mix of any two or extra of those supplies,” says the patent. “[The casing] could also be shaped utilizing a unibody configuration through which some or all of [the] housing is machined or molded as a single construction or could also be shaped utilizing a number of constructions.”

“The material for a detachable case could also be woven, knitted (e.g., weft knitted or warp knitted), or braided, or could also be shaped utilizing different strand intertwining methods,” it continues. “For instance, material might be knit utilizing a knitting machine.”

Detail from the patent showing a rigid snap-on kind of case, rather than a sock-like envelope

Element from the patent displaying a inflexible snap-on sort of case, reasonably than a sock-like envelope

Apple does say that instances might be designed, and that “the designer could also be a consumer… or a producer.” Nonetheless, it is not going that Apple means a house knitting machine. Particularly not if the supplies are stainless-steel, or glass.

Nevertheless, the way in which that Apple proposes to make these instances extra customizable does contain producing what it describes as “knitting directions.”

A consumer or producer may select or present a digital picture, after which Apple’s course of would convert that right into a program to create a custom-made design for the again of the case.

“The again panel might embrace a knit picture of a digital {photograph} or different design [and the] design of the again panel could also be custom-made in accordance with the designer’s tastes,” says Apple.

“The case could also be designed and constructed utilizing computing tools and knitting tools,” it continues. “The computing tools might obtain a user-selected digital picture from the consumer. The computing tools might use picture processing software program to cut back the decision and the variety of colours within the digital picture in accordance with the specs of the textile machine.”

“Material sample design software program might convert the digital picture into knitting directions,” says the patent. “The knitting directions could also be executed by knitting tools to supply a again panel for a material case.”

Detail from the patent showing one example of how fabric may be woven

Element from the patent displaying one instance of how material could also be woven

The patent describes completely different processes for creating a material case, however aside from when the fabric is glass, it is not clear simply how inflexible this casing is predicted to be. But as introduced, it is greater than a protecting slip-on sock, as a result of it is not a wraparound sort of case, and is as an alternative extra of a snap-on one.

That is what actually makes this a producing course of reasonably than a house knitting one. Regardless of the materials, although, Apple is decided to make ever extra customizable designs for customers.

This patent is credited to 4 inventors, together with Jessica J. Lu. Her earlier associated work contains iPhone instances that may cost AirPods.

And in case you had been questioning, an unused set of iPod Socks routinely sells for over $100 on eBay.

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