Apple working on portable device covers with electronic components
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Apple working on portable device covers with electronic components

Think the Smart Cover for the iPad 2 is intelligent? Just wait. Apple is working on follow-up devices that may reach the genius level. An Apple patent (number 20110090626) for a cover for a portable electronic device has appeared at the US Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent, the cover can include at least one electrical component. For example, in one embodiment, an electrical component can be embedded in the cover. When the cover is placed on or mated with the portable electronic device, the electrical component embedded in the cover is able to interact with electrical circuitry of the portable electronic device. Advantageously, the cover can not only provide a protective and/or ornamental covering for the portable electronic device but can also augment the electrical capabilities of the portable electronic device. The inventors are Quin C. Hoellwarth and Brett Gregory Alten.

Here's Apple's background and summary of the invention: "Typically, the surfaces of portable electronic devices are relatively easily damaged such as by scratches, dents and the like. Covers, skins or cases have been conventionally utilized to provide protection for the exterior surfaces of portable electronic devices. Accordingly, users can protect their portable electronic devices by placing covers or skins around their portable electronic devices.

"Additionally, accessories have been utilized to provide additional functionality to portable electronic devices. Typically, accessories are small electrical products that can attach who a portable electronic device, such as through the external connection port 108. One example of an accessory is a FM receiver provided as a small electrical product that can be attached to a portable electronic device via a cable, which is useful when the portable electronic device does not already include a FM receiver. Another example of an accessory is a wireless data capture device.

"The invention pertains to a cover for a portable electronic device. The cover can include at least one electrical component. For example, in one embodiment, an electrical component can be embedded in the cover. When the cover is placed on or mated with the portable electronic device, the electrical component embedded in the cover is able to interact with electrical circuitry of the portable electronic device. Advantageously, the cover can not only provide a protective and/or ornamental covering for the portable electronic device but can also augment the electrical capabilities of the portable electronic device. The invention is particularly well suited for handheld, battery-powered electronic devices.

"The invention may be implemented in numerous ways, including, but not limited to, a system, device, apparatus or method. Exemplary embodiments of the invention are discussed below.

"As a cover for a handheld, battery-powered, electronic device, where the electronic device has a device housing that contains electrical circuitry, one embodiment can, for example, include at least a cover body configured to be placed over a substantial portion of the device housing of the electronic device, and at least one electrical component provided within the cover body. The at least one electrical component is able to be electrically connected to the electrical circuitry within the device housing when the cover body is placed over a substantial portion of the device housing of the electronic device.

"As a method for forming a protective cover for an electronic device, one embodiment can, for example, include at least: providing a mold for the protective cover for the electronic device, obtaining an electrical component to be provided in the protective cover, positioning the electrical component within the mold, and forming the protective cover for the electronic device using the mold. The electrical component within the mold is provided internal to a portion of the protective cover.

"As a cover for a portable electronic device, one embodiment can, for example, include at least a cover body that is configured or conformable to an outer housing of the portable electronic device, an electrical connector at least partially embedded within the cover body, and at least one electrical component electrically connected to the at least one electrical connector.

"As a cover for a portable electronic device, one embodiment can, for example, include at least a cover body configured for covering at least a substantial portion of the portable electronic device, and at least one electrical component at least partially embedded within the cover body.

"As an integrated electrical skin, one embodiment can, for example, include at least a compliant body including an cavity for receiving an electronic device, and one or more electrical components being at least partially disposed within the compliant body. The compliant body being configured to be placed around the electronic device. The at least one of the electrical components being configured to be in communication with the electronic device when the electronic device is placed within the cavity."

-- Dennis Sellers

 
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