Apple Granted Patent for Liquidmetal Home Button on iOS Devices

liquidmetal.pngThe U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today granted Apple a series of 40 new patents, including one that describes various implementations and benefits of a Liquidmetal home button on iPhones and iPads.

Liquidmetal alloys, otherwise known as "bulk solidifying amorphous alloys" in the patent filing (via Patently Apple), have a number of unique properties, including high strength, corrosion resistance, light weight, and malleability.

Apple has annually renewed its exclusive rights to use Liquidmetal since 2010, but how it plans to use the alloys remains unclear. Early speculation centered around Apple using Liquidmetal for the iPhone SIM Tool, while other Liquidmetal home button patents have surfaced as early as 2014. Meanwhile, Steve Zadesky, named on this and other Liquidmetal patents, recently announced he was leaving Apple.

Today's patent explains how Liquidmetal's high elasticity makes it an ideal material for a pressure-sensitive home button that would deform slightly when pressed, but return to its normal shape when you remove your finger or thumb. Liquidmetal would always retain this elasticity, while other materials like titanium or stainless steel could become irreversibly deformed and adversely affect the home button.

Liquidmetal-home-button-patent
A second embodiment of the patent details a home button with a switch comprising a small actuator positioned adjacent to Liquidmetal material, whereby pressing the actuator deforms the bulk solidifying amorphous alloy. The efficient design could be easier for Apple to manufacture compared to conventional pressure-sensitive home buttons that use dome switches placed on a substrate with or without an actuation nub.

It does not appear that Apple's upcoming products, including the rumored iPhone SE, iPhone 7, and new 9.7-inch iPad Pro, will adopt Liquidmetal, given the absence of any recent rumors surrounding the alloys, but Apple's continuous renewal of the material implies it remains interested. It is common for Apple to patent inventions that are not publicly released until years later, if ever.

United States Patent No. 9,279,733 describes Apple's invention in more detail.

Popular Stories

iPhone SE 4 Vertical Camera Feature

iPhone SE 4 Rumored to Use Same Rear Chassis as iPhone 16

Friday July 19, 2024 7:16 am PDT by
Apple will adopt the same rear chassis manufacturing process for the iPhone SE 4 that it is using for the upcoming standard iPhone 16, claims a new rumor coming out of China. According to the Weibo-based leaker "Fixed Focus Digital," the backplate manufacturing process for the iPhone SE 4 is "exactly the same" as the standard model in Apple's upcoming iPhone 16 lineup, which is expected to...
iPhone 16 Pro Sizes Feature

iPhone 16 Series Is Just Two Months Away: Everything We Know

Monday July 15, 2024 4:44 am PDT by
Apple typically releases its new iPhone series around mid-September, which means we are about two months out from the launch of the iPhone 16. Like the iPhone 15 series, this year's lineup is expected to stick with four models – iPhone 16, iPhone 16 Plus, iPhone 16 Pro, and iPhone 16 Pro Max – although there are plenty of design differences and new features to take into account. To bring ...
iphone 14 lineup

Cellebrite Unable to Unlock iPhones on iOS 17.4 or Later, Leak Reveals

Thursday July 18, 2024 4:18 am PDT by
Israel-based mobile forensics company Cellebrite is unable to unlock iPhones running iOS 17.4 or later, according to leaked documents verified by 404 Media. The documents provide a rare glimpse into the capabilities of the company's mobile forensics tools and highlight the ongoing security improvements in Apple's latest devices. The leaked "Cellebrite iOS Support Matrix" obtained by 404 Media...
tinypod apple watch

TinyPod Turns Your Apple Watch Into an iPod

Wednesday July 17, 2024 3:18 pm PDT by
If you have an old Apple Watch and you're not sure what to do with it, a new product called TinyPod might be the answer. Priced at $79, the TinyPod is a silicone case with a built-in scroll wheel that houses the Apple Watch chassis. When an Apple Watch is placed inside the TinyPod, the click wheel on the case is able to be used to scroll through the Apple Watch interface. The feature works...
bsod

Crowdstrike Says Global IT Outage Impacting Windows PCs, But Mac and Linux Hosts Not Affected

Friday July 19, 2024 3:12 am PDT by
A widespread system failure is currently affecting numerous Windows devices globally, causing critical boot failures across various industries, including banks, rail networks, airlines, retailers, broadcasters, healthcare, and many more sectors. The issue, manifesting as a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD), is preventing computers from starting up properly and forcing them into continuous recovery...
New MacBook Pros Launching Tomorrow With These 4 New Features 2

M5 MacBook Models to Use New Compact Camera Module in 2025

Wednesday July 17, 2024 2:58 am PDT by
Apple in 2025 will take on a new compact camera module (CCM) supplier for future MacBook models powered by its next-generation M5 chip, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Writing in his latest investor note on unny-opticals-2025-business-momentum-to-benefit-509819818c2a">Medium, Kuo said Apple will turn to Sunny Optical for the CCM in its M5 MacBooks. The Chinese optical lens company...

Top Rated Comments

KazKam Avatar
109 months ago
Liquidmetal: A solution looking for a problem.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Ballis Avatar
109 months ago
I was hoping they would kill of the homebutton all together. And put the fingerprint sensor beneath the screen.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LordQ Avatar
109 months ago
Remember that rumour of an iPhone with Liquidmetal body? Doesn't time fly...
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bpeeps Avatar
109 months ago
Well this rumor takes me back to 2011.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iOSFangirl6001 Avatar
109 months ago
Oh snap the home button is turning Terminator on us:rolleyes:
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Vanilla35 Avatar
109 months ago
Stop patenting physical home button technology. If you haven't used it already, then you missed the boat. We're all looking forward to Touch ID being imbedded into the screen, and the home button bezel is getting to be ridiculous. Cut the chin apple.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)