Apple products usually have an Apple icon logo on the backside, and a new patent filed by the Cupertino, California company will see the logo serving a secondary purpose aside from helping to create a visible brand identity. Apple’s patent filing indicates that the company is looking to the logo to place its wireless radios–WiFi, Bluetooth, cellular–to help improve wireless reception especially on aluminum-clad designs that may block signal.
The company has already used the logo to place wireless radios in its tablet products. The iPad WiFi model has its wireless radios embedded on the back side of the Apple logo on the rear of the unibody aluminum tablet; the WiFi + 3G model has a plastic strip at the top to help get better mobile broadband 3G reception.
As the company uses metal in a number of its products, the challenge with radios is that metal can block reception: “Antenna operation could also be blocked by intervening metal structures. This could make it difficult to implement an antenna in an electronic device that contains conductive display structures, conductive housing walls, or other conductive structures that could potentially block radio-frequency signals.” To overcome this, the logo on the backside of most Apple devices–made of plastic–would serve to create a clean look while at the same time helping to improve signal transmission:
A logo antenna may transmit and receive radio-frequency antenna signals through a dielectric window mounted in a housing wall. The logo antenna may have an antenna resonating element structure such as a patch antenna resonating element. The dielectric antenna window may serve as a logo. The dielectric antenna window may, for example, have the shape of a logo or may contain appropriate text or other visual logo attributes.
Patently Apple had discovered the patent filing, and unlike most of Apple’s patent filing, this one stands a good chance of being implemented in near-term products as the concept is already put into practice by Apple on the first-generation WiFi-only iPad model.
It’s unclear, though, if Apple will revert back to an all-alimunum iPhone, like the original iPhone, with this design to help boost signal strength. The company had migrated to a steel band on the current iPhone 4, which would have theoretically provided better reception, but issues surrounding the now famous “Antennagate” have overshadowed any positive gains created from the exterior antenna design that wraps around the sides of the iPhone.