Apple Patent Details Flexible Battery Shape for Future Devices
An Apple patent application published yesterday (via Patently Apple) by the United States Patent and Trademark office details the creation of a flexible battery shape, suggesting that the company is exploring solutions for future products that may take on a unique shape, such as the rumored iWatch.
The patent, which was filed in December of 2011, covers a flexible battery pack that consists of several different cells connected through a laminate layer, designed to "allow the battery to be shaped to fit a form factor of the electronic device."
Electronic devices are ubiquitous in society and can be found in everything from portable cell phones to wristwatches. Many of these electronic devices require some type of portable power source. Many of these electronic devices also have unique form factors. Because of this, the portable power source of any one electronic device may not fit within any other electronic device.
Furthermore, these unique form factors often require flexible battery arrangements, whereas conventional battery packs are often too rigid to flexibly conform to these form factors. For example, lithium-ion batteries, such as lithium polymer battery cells, are quite rigid and bending them repeatedly may cause damage to the battery cells and battery failure. As a result of attempting to accommodate inflexible battery packs, the packaging of portable electronic devices may not be optimally sized.
Apple's patent also suggests that a flexible battery pack could have certain cells removed to incorporate thermoelectric coolers, flashes, or a camera, allowing the battery to fit more snugly into a small space. The company points out that an isolated flexible cell arrangement increases device reliability as well, preventing multiple connected cells from failing at once due to environmental factors like moisture or dust.
According to Apple, its flexible battery solution could be used in a number of devices, including "wristwatches, calculators, laptop computers, tablet computers, and/or music players."
A patent application published in March and a job listing in April suggested that Apple was researching iPhones constructed with flexible wraparound displays, and such designs would likely incorporate the flexible battery detailed in yesterday's patent.
In recent weeks, Apple has filed for a number of trademarks on the iWatch name around the world. According to rumors, Apple has 100 product designers working on the watch, which is likely to launch in 2014.