iPad Patents Surface: Front Camera, Smart Bezel, and Horizontal Dock Connector?

Patently Apple has discovered a few patent applications that show new potential features that may be found on a future versions of the iPad. At this point, it is purely speculation as to what the patents actually mean, since there is limited documentation.

On September 24, 2010, China’s Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of new Apple Industrial Designs wins. In this report we cover two things. The first is Apple’s iPad Camera Connector and the second is a new iPad design which clearly illustrates that at least one future iPad model will sport a new FaceTime – face side camera. The design surprisingly confirms that there might not be a back side camera as most had anticipated.

The addition of a second dock connector would make a lot of sense, especially if you wanted to use multiple accessories at once, or actually dock your iPad to a keyboard. I wouldn’t be suprised if this one really does come to fruition, although it’s not Apple’s style to increase the number of port openings in their devices.

Next up is evidence of a “Smart Bezel”, which would make areas (like the corners) of the iPad’s housing touch-sensitive, and allow for special input. This could be used like “Hot Corners” on OS X, which cause different actions to happen, like activating Expose or Spaces, when the mouse is dragged to a specific corner.

Last, but not least, is what looks to be either a light sensor or camera on the center-top of the front bezel. Hopefully it is the former, and since Apple is adding FaceTime to non-iPhone products like the iPod Touch and OS X’s iChat, there is a very real possibility that the iPad get the feature as well. With the tablets large screen and family-oriented design, it would be a match made in heaven. Samsung’s much-hyped “Galaxy Tab” has a front camera, so Apple would be wise to add one to the iPad to stay competitive.

[Patently Apple]

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