Expect a New Generation of Lighter and Tougher iPads, iPhones and iBooks
by Idris Mootee
Do you ever wonder why everything is getting lighter and lighter? That includes the airplane that you fly in and your car. If you ever get a chance to fly Qantas in an A380, you’ll find the economy class seats are all carbon fiber. It is very commonly used in planes due to its lightweight nature.
Carbon fiber is basically plastic, it refers to plastic reinforced by a graphite textile. It is also know as alternatively as carbon fiber reinforced plastic or carbon fiber composite. Carbon fiber is not cheap, but has a fantastic weight-to-strength ratio and that’s why they are used in high-quality cars, boats, bicycles, and planes, including popular Formula One race cars. A small piece can withstand an impact of many tons and still deform minimally. Carbon fiber composite is currently the best material that the world can produce in appreciable quantities. Introducing carbon nanotubes into the fiber is currently in late research stages, and may offer improved ratios of 10 times or greater – a space age material indeed.
Apple engineer Kevin M. Kenney sees the future of carbon fiber and tablets, they are applying for a patent called simply “Reinforced Device Housing” that describes a way for various weaves to be backed by carbon “spine” to provide greater torsional rigidity — to keep you from twisting it and cracking an LCD. Imagine the next generation of lightweight iPad, iBook and iPhone. IBooks still have weight and heat issues. In fact, Panasonic started making a ultra lightweight laptop many years back, but not for export. There is a need to overcome the perception that plastic is cheap as this is no ordinary plastic. Sony as early as 2005 launched two new VAIO TX series notebooks both made of carbon fiber making them the strongest and lightest with the least amount of thickness. They were ahead of Apple.
Apple’s patent text is pretty broad and it raises some issue: Embodiments may house any number of electronic components. For example, certain embodiments may be used to form the exterior surface of a mobile telephone, a laptop or notebook computer, a tablet computing device, a desktop computer, a television, a stereo receiver, or practically any other electronic device. Expect to see a new generation of lighter and stronger Apple products soon.
Idris Mootee is the CEO of idea couture, a strategic innovation and experience design firm. He is the author of four books, tens of published articles, and a frequent speaker at business conferences and executive retreats.