Smart FurnitureSource: USPTO

What you need to know

  • An Apple patent has revealed how Apple could one day embed electronic components into fabric.
  • Applications listed include furniture, bags, and clothing.
  • It could give us awesome insight into the technology of the future.

An Apple patent published today has revealed how Apple could one day embed electronics into fabrics such as furniture, bags, and clothing.

The patent is titled Electrical Components Attached to Fabric and its abstract states:

An item may include fabric having insulating and conductive yarns or other strands of material. The conductive strands may form signal paths. Electrical components can be mounted to the fabric. Each electrical component may have an electrical device such as a semiconductor die that is mounted on an interposer substrate. The interposer may have contacts that are soldered to the conductive strands. A protective cover may encapsulate portions of the electrical component. To create a robust connection between the electrical component and the fabric, the conductive strands may be threaded through recesses in the electrical component. The recesses may be formed in the interposer or may be formed in a protective cover on the interposer. Conductive material in the recess may be used to electrically and/or mechanically connect the conductive strand to a bond pad in the recess. Thermoplastic material may be used to seal the solder joint.

That details how Apple could try to embed electrical components into fabric, but what possible application could that have? There are some clues in the background:

It may be desirable to form bags, furniture, clothing, and other items from materials such as fabric. Fabric items generally do not include electrical components. It may be desirable, however, to incorporate electrical components into fabric to provide a user of a fabric item with enhanced functionality.

That's right people, Apple is exploring ways to incorporate electronics into furniture, bags, and clothing. The patent makes further provisions for use with electronic devices, such as laptops, tablets, phones or their accessories and further states:

If desired, item 10 may be a removable external case for electronic equipment, may be a strap, may be a wrist band or head band, may be a removable cover for a device, may be a case or bag that has straps or that has other structures to receive and carry electronic equipment and other items, may be a necklace or arm band, may be a wallet, sleeve, pocket, or other structure into which electronic equipment or other items may be inserted, may be part of a chair, sofa, or other seating (e.g., cushions or other seating structures), may be part of an item of clothing or other wearable item (e.g., a hat, belt, wrist band, headband, etc.), or may be any other suitable item that incorporates fabric.

Of course, this is just a patent (a relatively new one, only filed in November of last year), so Apple is really just spitballing ideas on paper at this point. But who knows? Maybe one day Apple will be supplying us with tech and smart fabrics that could revolutionize our homes and our lives.