I missed this one in my patent research yesterday, but AppleInsider notes that Apple has filed for a patent (number 20200026327) for “electronic device with glass housing member” that hints at a radical design of the iMac.
If the ideas proposed in the patent filing ever come to fruition — and Apple files for LOTS of ideas and designs that never see the light of day — it could produce an all-in-one desktop made of a single (large) pane of glass. That single pane would include the display, keyboard, and two trackpads.
In the patent filing, Apple notes that many electronic devices include multiple distinct components in which input and output devices are provided. For example, a display enclosure may be separate from an input device or keyboard enclosure. Additionally, the enclosure of some traditional electronic devices may be formed from materials that are easily scratched or that provide an inferior tactile feel or visual appearance. Apple apparently thinks a true all-in-one made of a single sheet of glass is a viable solution.
Interestingly, the keyboard in such an iMac could be be a keyless keyboard with force sensing and haptic feedback. The patent filing mentions one or more input components (e.g., touch sensors, force sensors, biometric sensors, and the like) that may be coupled to the housing member and configured to detect inputs at the input area.
Or it could be a more traditional keyboard with a storage configuration in which the keyboard is positioned at least partially within the opening. The keyboard could extend from the opening.
Here’s Apple’s summary of the invention: “An electronic device may include a glass housing member that includes an upper portion defining a display area, a lower portion defining an input area, and a transition portion joining the upper portion and the lower portion and defining a continuous, curved surface between the upper portion and the lower portion.
“The electronic device may include a display coupled to the glass housing member and configured to provide a visual output at the display area. The electronic device may include an input device coupled to the glass housing member and configured to detect inputs at the input area. The electronic device may include a support structure coupled to the glass housing member and configured to support the computing device.”