Thursday, December 7, 2023

Apple patent filing hints at smart furniture, smart clothing

Apple has filed for a patent (number 10,959,331) for “electrical components attached to fabric” that involves bags, furniture, clothing and other items made from materials such as fabric. 

I can’t imagine Apple getting into the smart clothing and smart furniture business. However, years ago, I would never have believed that Apple was (reportedly) considering making a smart car.

In the patent filing, the tech giant says it can be challenging to incorporate electrical components into fabric. Fabric is flexible, so it can be difficult to mount structures to fabric. 

Electrical components must be coupled to signal paths (e.g., signal paths that carry data signals, power, etc.), but unless care is taken, signal paths will be damaged or components may become dislodged as fabric is bent and stretched. Apple says that “it would therefore be desirable to be able to provide improved techniques for incorporating electrical components into items with fabric.”

Here’s the summary of the patent filing: “An item may include fabric having insulating and conductive yarns or other strands of material. The conductive strands may form signal paths. Electrical components can be mounted to the fabric. Each electrical component may have an electrical device such as a semiconductor die that is mounted on an interposer substrate. The interposer may have contacts that are soldered to the conductive strands. A protective cover may encapsulate portions of the electrical component. 

To create a robust connection between the electrical component and the fabric, the conductive strands may be threaded through recesses in the electrical component. The recesses may be formed in the interposer or may be formed in a protective cover on the interposer. Conductive material in the recess may be used to electrically and/or mechanically connect the conductive strand to a bond pad in the recess. Thermoplastic material may be used to seal the solder joint.”

The accompanying image is courtesy of GadgetFlow.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.