Apple makes notebook and tablet computers. But a patent application suggests that the company could also be working on something in between: a notebook with a removable display.

Interestingly this wouldn’t be an Asus Transformer-style device with a screen that works as a standalone tablet. The processor, memory, and other components are all in the base of the device. The removable display simply features a battery and a wireless chip for communicating with the base.

Apple Wireless Display

It’s not clear if Apple actually plans to build this product. Often companies apply for patents on devices that never see the light of day, and while this particular patent application showed up at the US Patent Office website this week, it was originally filed in September, 2011.

Right now Apple offers a line of notebooks running the same OS X software as the company’s desktop computers. Apple’s iPad tablets, on the other hand, run the touch-friendly iOS operating system.

It’s not clear what OS this hybrid device would use. But the patent application makes it clear that the computer isn’t just a notebook with a detachable screen. The base can send data to the screen over a wireless connection, which means you can continued to use the computer even when it’s in two pieces.

The screen could also feature touch sensors or other input features, letting you send data from the display to the base. So you might actually be able to use the device as a tablet… it’s just a two piece tablet, and the screen portion won’t work if the base is turned off.

The patent even mentions wireless charging with an inductive charger, leaving open the possibility that you could be able to charge the display simply by placing it on the base, or vice versa.

apple wireless display_02

via Mobile

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4 replies on “Apple patent describes a bizarre notebook with a removable display”

  1. Wow, I don’t mean to bash Apple, but nothing about that patent application (on the surface) is either new or novel. It’s a mash up of several existing technologies which are currently in use in actual products already. I understand that this is the standard shot gun approach that every company employs, but I sincerely hope it gets rejected.

    Computers have had removable hinges for years. The Wii U, Wi-Di, DLNA, and Airplay all predate this for wireless display… Sticking a battery behind the screen isn’t novel, and has been done before even if it’s not common practice because it’s kind of impractical in most instances. Having the screen touch enabled is obvious…

    I can see how this could easily be a useful technology. I can even come up with useful, practical scenarios where I could see using it. I just don’t see how it’s novel and worthy of government mandated monopoly protection.

    1. This is just how patents work. They can be vague. They can describe existing technologies put together in a new way where the “way” they’re put together and “how” they work together is patented. They don’t have to even exist or be built. There are a lot of patents you’d think can’t be patented.

  2. Ok, I’m confused. The display has enough battery to run the display AND a very high bandwidth radio link. A little ARM CPU wouldn’t impact battery life all that much so why not let it act as an independent tablet? Other than the zaniness factor of two alien systems sharing a display.

    Another though occurs. Yanking the screen off is probably one of the simpler ways to transform between laptop and tablet even if the screen isn’t independent. Yank it off, flip it around and shove it back into the socket. Almost as stable as normal hinges, certainly better than a center pivot or the more rube goldberg options like the thing Dell is doing with the spinning screen.

    1. There probably would be intelligence in the SOC on the display… just not a lot, because it’s not necessary. The advantage of NOT doing what you’re suggesting is that you then don’t have to maintain 2 copies of your applications, OS, etc, one for the ‘real’ computer and one for the ‘tablet’, which cuts down on the number of synchronization and storage issues you’d otherwise encounter. The cloud could obviate some of that, but it would still be a problem otherwise.

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