There are secrets. Secrets you are not supposed to know about. Suppressed 200mpg automobile engines. Faster-than-light-speed travel technology we scavenged at Roswell. The location of Walt Disney’s cryogenically frozen body. The truth about the Masons. But none of these inspires as much discussion and theorizing as the one to which we turn our attention here: Apple’s next big product. We unlocked the vault and scoured the USPTO’s database for a hint at what Steve’s next “one more thing” keynote reveal might be. Overall, we sifted through nearly 2,000 Apple patents, spanning 30 years of innovation. The paper cuts and bloodshot eyes paid off through a collection of the coolest, wildest, and weirdest inventions that Apple has ever come up with. Join us as we reveal the most tantalizing and, frankly, mind-boggling patents from the inner sanctum of Apple’s R&D lab, three of which we’ve taken from crude line drawing into the world of 3D mock-up, with our own photo-realistic designs.
Analyzing patents is one thing. Coming up with entirely new product ideas is something else entirely. Back in January, as part of our “What Comes Next?” feature, we asked for your three-dimensional “fauxtotype” designs of Apple’s “Next Big Thing,” whatever that may be. Over 50 would-be 3D designers sent us their creations, ranging from the obvious (iPod alarm clocks galore) to the unexpected (Apple-branded prefab buildings) to the curiously oblique (an Apple-created photo ID card). After much debate, voting, and gnashing of teeth, we whittled down the selections to our five favorites, which we present to you here for the first time ever. Wondering what you might soon be wearing on your ring finger…or riding in when you take to the friendly skies?