A patent Apple has recently applied for tells of an idea to turn “underutilized” mobile device clips into functional accessories.
The patent, titled “Removable Clip With User Interface” describes removable device clips that act as alternative interfaces for a mobile device, complete with physical buttons, in addition to their standard role in attaching a device to a user’s clothing.
From the patent:
Various types of clips are provided today with portable electronic computing devices such as media players (e.g., music player or video player). The clips today typically serve only one function, which is to clip the device to various objects such as a person’s clothing…
While today’s clips provide a valuable function for portable electronic computing devices, they are deficient in that the real estate used by the clips is underutilized in that the clips are only used to attach electronic computing devices to other objects. Such underutilization is particularly undesirable as technology continues to miniaturize since even the smallest amount of real estate used by a device is often considered burdensome by a consumer.
In the application multiple scenarios are described, including clips that make up a primary interface using physical buttons, clips to act as a secondary interface, and clips to enhance a primary user interface to provide additional functionality through the use of transparent buttons.
The patent application was filed July 11, 2011 before being published on Thursday. It lists Fletcher R. Rothkopf and Teodor Dabov as inventors.