November 18, 2020
As reported by PatentlyApple, Apple has filed a patent application for near-invisible microperforations, which allow notifications to be displayed on the housing element of a device.
The patent application describes imperceptible perforations in a device’s casing, which illuminate to display the software’s notifications, and which can be pressed by the user to interact with whatever is shown. The patent application includes images of this technology being used on laptops, smartphones, smartwatches, and even the Apple Pencil.
Apple’s patent application describe the usage of glass-like material for the casing of such products so as to allow these microperforations to function properly. The patent application sets out examples of such material, which include “plastic, glass, carbon fiber, ceramic, or other materials”. Most of the products displayed in the application’s images resemble Apple products that have been traditionally housed in a metal casing, meaning that a shift to usage of these materials may require a redesign from Apple.
The ability for notifications to be displayed and interacted with outside of a device’s natural screen is something that Apple has pursued since as early as 2013, when a patent issued disclosing “selectively visible” inputs, which were backlit through “tiny holes”. Apple's development of this technology has certainly come a long way since then, and may yet evolve more before anything of this sort reaches the consumer market.
Authors: Jaclyn Tilak and Sasha Seeber