A new patent application by Apple published by the USPTO this week describes a stand for the iPad that uses magnets to hold the Apple tablet in place. iPads already come with fairly powerful magnets built into their frames, something Apple introduced along with the very first model to make the iPad compatible with its smart cover. The patent describes a magnetic stand which would be able to hold the iPad firmly in place in a number of different settings, and perform various functions.
Some examples provided in the patent include mounting the iPad to a tripod, a treadmill, or a music stand, and even attaching two iPads together via a hinge that would allow iPads to be used together in a book-style configuration. The patent text says that the mounting device would work together with a shielded, in-built magnetic component on the target device (which the iPad already has), thus enabling for a much stronger connection that would normally be possible, since powerful unshielded magnets could have an adverse effect on internal electronic components.
The mounting system described in the patent does more than just provide for a stand that can grip the iPad firmly: different permutations also include data connections, so that in the book type instance, for example, both tablet devices have a wired connection built in to their portion of the hinge, making communication between the two tablets possible. That would mean things like flipping pages in a book would actually have an effect on both tablet displays simultaneously, instead of each acting independently.
The patent also goes into a lot more detail about how an in-car mount might work with an iPad. A rotational sensor could be used to activate and deactivate the tablet, for instance, meaning the iPad could have an on and off position (likely portrait and landscape respectively), and there’s also potential to have a tablet-to-vehicle connection initiated when a car detects a specific “magnetic signature.” That, combined with wireless connection direct to a car’s communication system, would effectively render a person’s iPad a unique and personalized in-car entertainment device and control console.
The patent describes a driver issuing voice-based commands to the iPad, which are passed on to the car to change the car’s “configuration.” The communication would be two-way, too, with the car feeding “car status information ” back to the iPad, which would also be able to handle navigation duties and play back music through the connected car’s stereo.
At first glance, this patent application by Apple is just about using the iPad’s magnetics for more than simply holding onto a cover. But digging in deeper, it’s actually about turning the iPad into pretty much exactly the kind of in-car accessory I recently hoped for aloud in a post bemoaning the current state of in-car entertainment systems. Overall, this patent could do a lot to help expand the iPad’s dominion even further, by turning it into a carry-anywhere intelligent, integrated media console for a variety of different devices and applications that currently have less than impressive built-in versions of the same.