Could the Next iMac Be Made from a Single Sheet of Glass?

Foldable iPad, iMac, or iPhone Concept Render Credit: MacRumors
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There’s little doubt that Apple’s desktop computers are already some of the most attractive and stylish designs out there. The iMac has been at the pinnacle of design for years, so much so that these days whenever you see a computer on someone’s desk in a movie or TV show, it’s not only likely to be an iMac, but you’ll know it by the design even when the actual Apple logo is covered up.

However, one could make the argument that the design of the iMac has become a bit staid after all these years. Although Apple spiffed it up a few years ago by switching to an ultra-thin screen, it’s still the same basic design that we’ve been seeing for over a decade, and while it’s certainly iconic, Apple isn’t one to stand still when it comes to design ideas.

As a recently published patent shows, one idea that Apple has been tossing around is making a future version of the iMac entirely out of glass. The aesthetic strikes us as something that we would see in a futuristic science fiction movie, and while it’s not clear if today’s technology could allow Apple to do this affordably, it definitely seems like something that would fit with Apple’s style.

According to the patent, the device would be made from a single sheet of glass, with an upper section housing the display, and a “continuous curved surface” that would angle down to a lower portion to house the keyboard and trackpad.

A stand at the back would hold the computer upright, and could possibly also contain any components that wouldn’t fit into the ultra-slim glass design. It would also allow the angle of the display to be changed, with the patent noting that the glass in between the upper and lower sections would be flexible.

The patent goes on to describe the input area as extending up to the bottom of the display, across the flexible glass area, which sounds like it would provide room for a set of Touch Bar style controls. The bottom input area could also be modular, offering support for things like wireless charging and data transfer, and a variation on the design described in the patent suggests that a removable keyboard could be designed to dock into the lower portion of the glass, but would still rely on the glass itself to detect the keystrokes.

An integrated camera is also described, which would be built into the glass of the enclosure as well, using “optically transmissive materials.” The patent also covers quite a few other interesting bases here, including the ability to allow touch and force to be detected through the glass, along with biometric sensors that could detect not only things like fingerprints but also heart rate and temperature.

This is perhaps one of the most ambitious design patents we’ve seen from Apple in a while, and of course the usual caveat about patents applies here, in that Apple patents a great many things that never see the light of day. However, this also seems like something that could easily be a direction that Apple is moving in, and even if the final result doesn’t look exactly like the machine pictured in the patent, there are a lot of good ideas in here that could make it into a future iMac, or even an iPad, in one form or another.

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