The iMac is due for a redesign, and a recent Apple patent hints at an all-in-one desktop made from a single sheet of curved glass. Interestingly, the patent also accounts for potentially built-in keyboards and touchpads, and also the possibility of using the device as a display dock for a MacBook.
The patent was originally filed with the U.S. Patent and Trade Office in May last year and is titled “Electronic Device With Glass Housing Member.” In the abstract, the futuristic AIO is described as “an electronic device [that] 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 lower portion and defining a continuous, curved surface between the upper portion and the lower portion.” Or in layman’s terms, a display encased in glass up top, an area for a keyboard or trackpad below, and a continuous, curved transitional space between the two.
The patent itself is pretty broadly defined—in some instances, it proposes the trackpad and keyboard are built-in, in others they’re separate. “it should be understood that the following descriptions are not intended to limit the embodiments to one preferred embodiment,” the patent reads. Another interesting tidbit is the patent makes reference to touch sensors, force sensors, and biometric sensors as potential ‘input components’ for the device. And while the patent explicitly references glass for the body, it also notes other materials such as plastic, ceramic, and composites for the body as well. It also leaves open the possibility for a “textured or frosted surface on an otherwise transparent material.”
One of the more interesting design possibilities includes the ability to dock a MacBook. As you can see in the image, the MacBook would dock through the back, and ostensibly, you could see the screen via the AIO’s larger display. An opening at the bottom would let you use the MacBook’s keyboard and trackpad.
Again, this is just a patent. While it could be offering us a glimpse of what’s to come, it’s also possible this design never sees the light of day. Still, it’s at least a reassuring thought that Apple hasn’t completely forgotten about the iMac.