Apple has been granted several new patents this week, including two design patents covering the slide-to-unlock feature and the rounded corners of the original iPhone, as well as a patent relating to touchscreen technology that could collect solar energy.
The first of Apple's newly granted design patent covers the slide-to-unlock user interface asset.
The patent for "display screen or portion thereof with a graphical user interface" was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday, having been filed back in September 2011.
The accompanying illustrations show the familiar rounded rectangle slide-to-unlock bar design that has been part of iOS since the first iPhone was launched in 2007, reports Patently Apple.
Apple has also been granted a design patent for "the ornamental design for an electronic device, as shown and described." This patent covers the rounded corners found on the original iPhone, which were also the focus of patent infringement lawsuits between Apple and Samsung last year. The lawsuit resulted in a win for Apple, with Samsung forced to pay the company $1.05 billion for infringing several patents in its smartphones and tablets.
The US Patent and Trademark Office also granted Apple a patent that covers an invention that could bring solar power to the iPhone.
The patent, entitled "Integrated touch sensor and solar assembly," describes touchscreen display technology that would integrate a touch sensor array and solar panels featuring electrodes that could be used in mobile devices such as the iPhone to both collect solar energy and as an optical sensor.
The invention could benefit Apple should the company decide to launch its rumoured bigger iPhone, because it would allow for a larger, more power-hungry screen despite mobile battery limitations.
A 'traffic control unit' would be included in the solar powered device to decide whether energy generated should be sent to the battery for storage or used to run the device, reports Apple Insider.
Apple's iPhone 5 introduced the 'in-cell' display to the smartphone, but reports have suggested that interference problems with the new technology have led the company to reconsider the new touchscreen and seek alternatives.