The Mac Observer

Skip navigational links

You're viewing an article in TMO's historic archive vault. Here, we've preserved the comments and how the site looked along with the article. Use this link to view the article on our current site:
Apple Files For Patent On Color Changing Cases, Geeks Freak Out [Updated]

Apple Files For Patent On Color Changing Cases, Geeks Freak Out [Updated]

by , 6:00 PM EST, December 30th, 2002

[Update: We'd like to thank Observer Daniel Koskinen for sending us a working link to the patent, which he found at MacFora.com. - Editor]

This story comes to you via a circuitous route: We noted it on Slashdot, which cited MacDailyNews -- which, having been slashdotted, is inaccessible for the nonce -- who we think noted it from Ars Technica's forums, as that site's thread on the subject was started on Saturday.

The story itself is that Apple has apparently filed for a new patent that has everyone all worked up. The title of the patent, according to the folks on the Ars Technica boards, is "Computing device with dynamic ornamental appearance." The idea submitted in the patent is for the casing for an electronic device be able to change colors according to dynamic conditions. As Apple put it in the patent application, "For example, the light may be used to exhibit a housing behavior that reflects the desires or moods of the user, that reflects inputs or outputs for the electronic device, or that reacts to tasks or events associated with operation of the electronic device."

The link to the patent [Link changed to one that functions properly], so we offer the quoted information provided by Ars Technica forum poster:

The invention pertains to electronic devices capable of dynamically changing their ornamental or decorative appearance, i.e., the outer appearance as seen by a user. The electronic devices generally include an illuminable housing. The illuminable housing, which includes at least one wall configured for the passage of light, is configured to enclose, cover and protect a light arrangement as well as functional components of the electronic device. The light arrangement, which generally includes one or more light sources, is configured to produce light for transmission through the light passing wall(s) of the illuminable housing. The transmitted light illuminates the wall(s) thus giving the wall a new appearance. That is, the transmitted light effectively alters the ornamental or decorative appearance of the electronic device. In most cases, the light is controlled so as to produce a light effect having specific characteristics or attributes. As such, the electronic device may be configured to provide additional feedback to the user of the electronic device and to give users the ability to personalize or change the look of their electronic device on an on-going basis. That is, a housing of the electronic device is active rather than passive, i.e., the housing has the ability to adapt and change. For example, the light may be used to exhibit a housing behavior that reflects the desires or moods of the user, that reflects inputs or outputs for the electronic device, or that reacts to tasks or events associated with operation of the electronic device.

You can find the Ars Technica post at that site's forums.

The Mac Observer Spin:

Perusing the discussion at both Slashdot and Ars Technica, we have found that the vast majority of reactions from the geeks has been very negative. Much of it has run along the vein of "Oh great, instead of faster CPUs, Apple is bringing us more eye candy," along with other equally obtuse comments, as if Apple chose to work on this idea in lieu of faster processors. This has been countered by a smattering of support for the idea from people intrigued by the possibilities.

Reactionary comments from the unwashed masses are nothing new, but the vindictiveness with which this patent is being greeted surprises even us. The fear of change often brings out the worst in people, especially on the Internet where the lack of reprisals offered by the medium's anonymity practically guarantees rude behavior, so perhaps we shouldn't be that surprised.

The most interesting thing we noted, however, is that most people tend to think this patent idea is for use on iMac cases, or other CPUs. We think it much more likely that a device with the ability to change colors would be much more likely to be an iPod or similar handheld device. Think of it as a built-in visualizer. Think, too, about the way such a device would appeal to many, many consumers. If eye candy helps pay the bills, we say bring it on. In the quest for profits, it is the innovative companies that will survive the onslaught of Dell's quest to turn computers into toasters.

In any event, we look forward to seeing what Apple brings to market, if anything, based on this patent application.

Recent Headlines - Updated July 22nd

Tue,12:36 AM
‘Stickers’ Apple Commercial Highlights User Love for MacBook Air
Mon,8:57 PM
Apple Fixes MacBook Air (Mid 2011) Sleep Issue with Firmware Update
8:44 PM
Apple Reportedly Orders 70-80 Million Large Screen iPhones for Q4
7:47 PM
Five Third Party Extensions Announced for iOS 8
5:21 PM
The Beginner Web Dev Hacker Bundle: $69
4:30 PM
OS X: The Best Ways to Share a Web Page (via Email) in Safari
2:00 PM
Jot Touch with Pixelpoint: Like Adobe’s Ink Stylus, but More Buttons
1:24 PM
TMO Daily Observations: 2014-07-21
12:35 PM
Voyager Q Conveniently Docks Your Extra SATA Drives
11:30 AM
Zachs Rates AAPL Neutral on Potential iPhone Competition
10:16 AM
Apple Faces Patent Infringement Lawsuit over iPhone 5 Speech Recognition
9:01 AM
Apple’s 2014 London iTunes Festival to Include Maroon 5, Pharrell Williams
  • __________
  • Buy Stuff, Support TMO!
  • Podcast: Mac Geek Gab
  • Podcast: Apple Weekly Report
  • TMO on Twitter!