The iPhone 6 could feature a Liquidmetal home button, making it more resilient to frequent user interaction.
Apple could use the technology it acquired as part of an agreement with Liquidmetal technologies in its next iPhone flagship.
So far, Apple has only used Liquidmetal technology in the SIM card eject tool for the iPhone 3G. Since then, it hasn’t been confirmed whether Apple has used Liquidmetal in any other devices, including the recently launched iPhone 5S.
However, a new Apple patent suggests the company could use Liquidmetal in future pressure sensors, such as the iPhone 6 home button.
The illustrations accompanying the patent (above) even look a lot like the iPhone and iPad home button.
“Because switches on consumer electronic devices are operated frequently, the materials used to fabricate the switch must be capable of repeated deformation and return to their original configuration,” reads the patent. “A proposed solution according to embodiments herein for pressure sensors is to use bulk-solidifying amorphous alloys as the deformable material, and to measure the pressure based on the physical changes of the bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy as it is deformed.”
Liquidmetal alloys would mean high life expectancies for the iPhone 6 home button, a problem that is notoriously associated with older iPhone and iPad models. They would be stronger and more resilient to a high use frequency.
It’s not clear from the patent whether the Touch ID fingerprint sensor build into the home button of the iPhone 5S would be compatible with the Liquidmetal technology, but we doubt Apple would scrap a feature that has been so popular with consumers.
The Liquidmetal pressure sensor patent was filed in 2012. Since then, Apple is bound to have made substantial progress with the technology.
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