APPLE has been granted a patent for “fused glass device housings.” This means that future Apple devices could eschew their current hybrid metal, plastic, and glass cases for a single, solid piece of glass.
According to the patent, a device’s internal pieces would be fitted into bevelled, individual sections of glass. The individual sections of glass would then be fused together to form one solid, smooth glass case. The glass used could possibly be the sapphire glass Apple is reportedly using in the iPhone 6, instead of the Gorilla glass currently in use.
It also means any future Apple product, from laptops to set-top boxes like the AppleTV, could someday come in clear, or partially transparent, solid glass cases. According to the patent, the pieces don’t necessarily need to be transparent. “Opaque masking material and coloured glass may be used,” creating sections of the housing that would hide the devices internal components from view.
Steve Jobs had an almost unnatural obsession with glass. Anyone who has been into a larger Apple store has seen the enormous amounts of glass that define the structures —— even the staircases themselves are glass, as functional pieces of artwork that themselves are a metaphor for Jobs’ vision of computing, where design and engineering exist as one seamless entity.
Gorilla glass, the current glass of choice for Apple devices, was originally invented by Corning in the 1960s and found many uses in commercial, automotive, and aviation applications. When Steve Jobs heard of the existence of the glass when designing the first iPhone, he famously told the CEO of Corning he wanted as much of the product as Corning could make in 6 months. The new patent could be the next step in that evolution.