Are Apple Products Getting New Curves?

Is Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) on the verge of a major iDevice redesign? While mobile devices continue to get smaller and thinner with each generation, the shape and size of these devices is often limited by the particular type of battery that these products require. Apple notes in one patent that the “common type of battery pack design may be unable to utilize free space in the portable electronic device that is outside of a rectangular space reserved for the battery pack. For example, a rectangular battery pack of this type may be unable to efficiently utilize free space that is curved, rounded, and/or irregularly shaped.”

However, Apple has recently filed two patents with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office that aim to provide a workaround solution to this frustrating design limitation. Both of the patents outline specific methods for altering batteries into non-traditional shapes.

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The first patent is titled “Curved Battery Cells for Portable Electronic Devices” and it outlines two methods for creating curved batteries. One method is to encase the battery in a flexible pouch which can then be manipulated into a curved container. The other method uses heat and pressure “using a set of curved plates” to produce the desired form. According to the patent, these batteries would be utilized in “a laptop computer, tablet computer, mobile phone, personal digital assistant [PDA], digital camera, portable media player, and/or other type of battery-powered electronic device.”

The second patent is titled “Non-Rectangular Batteries for Portable Electronic Devices” and it covers a similar method for creating odd-shaped or “non-rectangular” batteries. This is done by “removing material from one or more of the [battery] layers” and stacking the layers into the desired shape.

Both of these patents are interesting in the sense that they remove some of the design barriers to creating sleeker and curvier devices. Apple set the standard in elegant, minimalist hardware design when it unveiled the iPhone in 2007. Now that Apple has revealed a patented method for creating devices that are not limited by the flat, rectangular shape of batteries, it will be interesting to see how the Cupertino-based company uses this design freedom in its next generation of products. IWatch, anyone?

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