Tag - Liquidmetal
Among many new patents granted to Apple by the US Patent and Trademark Office, one has attracted interest because of its involvement of Liquidmetal, an amorphous alloy Apple has invested in an exclusive license for that offers unique properties, but has never been much exploited by the company. The new patent images the substance as part of a future iOS device home button. In the patent, Apple describes the alloy as being used in a switch, where pressure from a finger would temporarily deform the actuator, but using Liquidmetal would mean that the button would always return to its normal shape, avoiding eventual permanent deformity.
This edition of Rumor Roundup will begin with what we understand is a fact: Apple VP of Product Design Steve Zadesky is leaving Apple. The Wall Street Journal reports that he has informed colleagues of his departure for personal reasons. The loss will be a blow to the company: Zadesky worked on the iPhone and iPad, and has been working extensively with Liquidmetal -- the special alloy Apple owns the rights to under license. However, it is his rumored role as the head of the Apple car-technology project, which allegedly stems from is former role as a Ford engineer, that feeds the rumor mill.
Two patents recently published by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) suggest Apple is still working on developing production processes for Liquidmetal. The two patents describe methods for casting bulk metallic glass (BMG) in different ways, including allowing multiple BMGs to surround other alloys, as well as techniques to melt BMG feedstock using horizontal cold crucible induction melting (CCIM) systems.
Apple has again renewed its exclusive license -- for the third time in as many years -- for rights to use Liquidmetal Technologies' patented and unique metal alloys, despite the fact that the company has appeared to do little with the technology. The metal alloy, known for its high strength-to-weight ratio, corrosion resistance and ability to be molded into complex or other shapes difficult to achieve with other metals, has been the object of speculation for years.
Apple has again extended its contract with Liquidmetal Technologies, giving the Cupertino manufacturer exclusive rights to its alloys through February of 2015. All intellectual property acquired or developed by the Liquidmetal Technologies, and all intellectual property held by Crucible Intellectual Property, is now under the control of Apple for use only in its own devices.
Apple's exclusive licensing agreement of the Liquidmetal fabrication process and engineering staff in 2010 briefly sent ripples through the tech industry, until a lead executive revealed that it would take years and hundreds of millions of dollars before the material was ready for large-scale production. A patent awarded to Crucible Intellectual Property -- seemingly a joint venture between the two companies -- appears to be at least a portion of the method to generate large quantities of Liquidmetal, expected to be used in future iOS and other devices. Apple holds the exclusive license for the development and sale of the material in the consumer market.
A job listing from Apple describing the need for a mechanical engineer with a wide knowledge of materials and manufacturing processes -- and some specific experience in skills required for dealing with the bulk-metallic glass alloy known as Liquidmetal -- has fuelled speculation that Apple's investment in the technology may be finally bearing more fruit. The technology is already used for specialized parts such as the SIM card ejector pin in older iPhone models, but very little has been seen of it thus far.
An SEC filing by Liquidmetal Technologies on Friday revealed that the company has extended its licensing of the technology to Apple for exploitation in consumer electronics for another two years beyond the original agreement, now in effect until 2014. Apple has made light use of the technology since 2010 on small parts such as the SIM card ejector pin in the iPhone 3GS, but continues to develop the innovation for commercial use.
Dr. Ataka Peker, one of the inventors of the new class of metallic alloys known commercially as Liquidmetal and the founder of the company, says he believes Apple would have to spend "three to five years", and "$300 million to $500 million" to develop the alloys to the point where it could be used on a large scale, such as for an entire computing casing. He believes the company will continue to use Liquidmetal on a smaller scale until a "breakthrough product" comes along.
A rumor surfacing Wednesday has both Apple and Samsung turning towards exotic materials for their next-generation smartphones. Apple would purportedly take advantage of its Liquidmetal patent deal, ETNews said, to get a shell that was both thin and light but resistant to external damage. The design was "expected" to show at the World Wide Developers Conference in June, though without an official WWDC date, this part would be more speculation than a claim of fact.
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Verizon gives last offer, issues workers ultimatum
Verizon has offered striking workers its "last, best and final offer" following 10 months of protracted negotiations with union leaders. The latest offer comes on the back of 36,000 Verizon employees taking strike action two weeks ago. The proposal includes a 7.5 percent wage rise, better benefits and voluntary retirement incentive offers. The striking workers, mainly on from its fixed line operations, have claimed that Verizon has outsourced 5,000 jobs to workers overseas and that it has been deliberately hiring low-wage, non-union contractors. Verizon recently posted revenue of $32.2 billion for the March quarter. http://cnnmon.ie/26AmwSv
CarPlay comes to Porsche 718 Cayman
Porsche has revealed that its new 718 Cayman series will be the latest vehicles in its range equipped with support for Apple CarPlay. The new Porsche models joins the recently announced 718 Boxster, the 2017 Macans and the 2016 model of the 911 in offering support for Apple's iOS in the car interface. Both are fitted standard with an eight speaker sound system and the Porsche Communications Management (PCM) system. The entry-level Cayman starts at $53,9000, while the faster S variant starts from $66,300. Although already on sale, the won't reach US dealers until late November. http://prn.to/1Tj1EW7
Macphun offers free Photos filters
Image editing software maker Macphun are offering a free set of up to 30 photo filter effects to extend the range of filter options available to users of Apple's Photos app for OS X, which replaced the previous iPhoto program. The first 15 filters are available after installing the software, and includes filters such as "Ancient Canvas" and "Twilight," while users who sign up for the Macphun newsletter will unlock the other 15 effects. The extension integrates directly into Photos, and include sliders for finer control of the effects and a masking brush. http://bit.ly/1VEgQD6
Snapchat sued over speed filter photo overlay
Accident victims in Spalding County, GA are suing Snapchat, as well as the driver responsible for the accident. The suit alleges that the app's "speed filter," which can post the speed that which a picture was taken, encouraged driver Christal McGee to attempt to reach 100 miles per hour in her car, leading to the accident that caused both Wentworth and Karen Maynard serious injuries. The suit alleges Wentworth Maynard suffered brain damage in the incident. McGee posted a photo of herself in a cervical collar on the way to the hospital, saying that she was "lucky to be alive." Snapchat has not commented on the lawsuit. http://abcn.ws/24nhR49
Pandora bleeding slows, posts $28.9M Q1 loss
Streaming music service Pandora today announced financial results for the first quarter of 2016, posting a loss of $28.9 million, an improvement from the $48.3 million loss it showed in the year-ago-quarter. Total consolidated revenue was $297.3 million, growing 29 percent year-over-year. Total listener hours grew 4 percent to 5.52 billion for the first quarter of 2016, compared to 5.30 billion for the same period of the prior year. Active listeners were 79.4 million at the end of the first quarter of 2016, up compared to 79.2 million for the same period of the prior year. http://pdora.co/1WtxdkW
Carl Icahn dumps Apple stock on China worries
Carl Icahn has sold all of his stock in Apple, citing concerns over sales in China. While he called Apple a "great company" and praised Tim Cook for "doing a great job," Icahn sold his shares after the Apple investor results, garnering a profit of $2 billion over three years. Icahn said of business in China that the Chinese government could "come in and make it very difficult for Apple to sell there." Should the market steady in China, Icahn said that he will re-invest in the company, regardless of the market price. http://cnb.cx/1SCfEdI
August Home HomeKit compatible Smart Lock ships
Smart lock developer August Home today began shipping its second generation Smart Lock, with HomeKit support. In addition to full Siri support, the Smart Lock is also compatible with third-party HomeKit apps like Insteon+, Lutron, and iDevices, allowing for multi-step actuations, like turning on a light when the door is locked or unlocked. The August Smart Lock HomeKit enabled retails for $229. http://bit.ly/1SvADlG