Apple is responsible for an ever-growing number of truly intriguing (re: nonsensical) patent applications. These usually cause Apple fans’ heads to turn like a dog hearing the quiet skittering of a nearby squirrel. However, the latest approved patent from the Cupertino, California-based company may take the prize as its strangest yet.
In the patent, first filed in June of 2021 and approved Tuesday, Apple talks up its ideas for “Modularized Computing and Input Devices.” This kind of kickstand would act as a kind of slotted dock that could accept multiple screens and keyboards, and potentially more. It’s all configured around some kind of base device that can connect both displays or keyboards in multiple configurations. The base itself would be hinged to allow these devices to swivel.
Some of the included diagrams show how you could connect a keyboard and display to the base to form a kind of tablet with a keyboard setup. Others show how you could attach two or even three screens together, which itself gives the same energy as a fantasy barbarian dual-wielding two shields. As described in the patent, one screen could display content while the other could act as a drawing tablet or keyboard.
Now, it’s at this point we should mention that Apple filing a patent does not mean it ever intends to follow up on its design. Apple files quite a few patents for its wearables, phones, and many more device applications. Considering the time between when Apple files the patents and when it receives approval, these patents aren’t necessarily indicative of where Apple is moving with its technology.
Gizmodo reached out to Apple for comment about this latest patent, but we did not immediately hear back.
One of the funkiest aspects of the patent is the inclusion of a large, classic-style vinyl turntable. The application itself describes this as merely an “input device” that can provide information to the base. Essentially, the base would allow physical or wireless communication with the attached device, in this case, a turntable usable by “disc jockeys,” or anybody working the decks on their device.
The patent further describes how “The computing device can be utilized by a music producer, a disc jockey, an audio engineer, or the like to generate music in one configuration while also being modular to permit the user to remove the input device.” The patent references how the base would connect with that turntable device to respond to certain toggles like physical buttons and knobs.
Another part of the patent describes keeping the connected laptop upright, like a book. Any connected device can collapse on top of each other like a laptop. Another configuration includes one screen attached to a shorter keyboard. Joined to the keyboard is described as another touchscreen that could act as a kind of drawing tablet. We’ve seen these extra hinges on other experimental designs like this laptop with a foldable wristrest. Companies like Framework have tried out laptops with replaceable keyboards and slots for computer upgrades. Considering all the questions of comfort of usability, it’s no wonder why no major company has tried to iterate on an ultra-customizable laptop.
The thing is, you can already buy iPads with physical, attachable keyboards, so a completely customizable device seems like a pipe dream and a rather ill-considered dream at that. The connection points for such a device would need to be strong indeed, but what would make the most sense is if such a dock were compatible with existing Apple hardware.