Recent Apple Patents Hint at Future iPad Designs

We may not see all of these Apple patents implemented on the iPad 2, but they are interesting nonetheless. Several patents filed by Apple engineers have surfaced in recent days. One modification to the back of the iPad could put some accessory manufacturers out of business.

Built-in Apple iPad stand patent

The diagrams show a built-in stand on the back of the tablet computer that would fold out to provide a comfortable tabletop viewing angle. A dual hinge would allow the iPad to rest on the kickstand in either landscape or portrait position.

The stand would either fold directly into the iPad body or be available as a separate add-on accessory. Although this sounds incredibly useful, Apple would need to add weight and bulk or displace internal parts in the iPad to make a built-in stand feasible.

Another patent that is surprising some observers is for an iPad stylus. Steve Jobs himself disparaged the use of a stylus on Apple's new multi-touch screens, so the fact that Apple has been developing its own stylus means it could have something more up its sleeve. Several third-party companies already make styluses that are compatible with the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

Apple's stylus patent includes a disc on the end of the pen that would stay in contact with the screen no matter what angle the stylus was held at. The body of the pen itself would also send accelerometer and other sensor information to the iPad to provide more input options to the user. Analysts speculate that Apple would only release a stylus to further penetrate the market for tablets in education.

Recently we saw iPad designs involving a carbon-fiber iPad back to reduce weight, and designs for multi-speaker iPads. Apple is expected to launch the iPad 2 as early as March 2011.

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