A few weeks ago, a report surfaced claiming that Apple’s next-gen iPhone will make use of liquid metal alloys as a means to create a device that’s thinner, lighter, and more robust than previous models. If your recall, Apple back in 2010 signed a deal with Liquidmetal Technologies for the exclusive right to the company’s intellectual property for use in consumer electronic gadgets. As it stands now, the extent of Apple’s use of liquid metal is the SIM card ejector pin on the iPhone.
In a recent interview with Business Insider, Atakan Peker, one of the inventors of the extremely durable metal, sat down and discussed all things liquid metal, including why a liquid metal MacBook won’t be hitting the market anytime soon.
“This is a technology that has yet to be matured and perfected both in manufacturing process and application development,” Peker explained. “I should note that this is a completely new and different metal technology. Therefore, there is no suitable manufacturing infrastructure yet to take full advantage of this alloy technology.” Peker adds, “For example, I estimate that Apple will likely spend on the order of $ 300 million to $ 500 million — and three to five years — to mature the technology before it can used in large scale.”
The most intriguing part of the interview, though, occurs when Peker is asked about how he anticipates liquid metal being used by Apple in the future.
I expect Liquidmetal application in two ways: First evolutionary substitution of current materials and secondly, and more importantly, in a breakthrough product made only possible by Liquidmetal technology. Apple’s exclusively licensing a new material technology (specifically for casing and enclosures) is a first in the industry.
This is very exciting. Therefore, I expect Apple to use this technology in a breakthrough product. Such product will likely bring an innovative user interface and industrial design together, and will also be very difficult to copy or duplicate with other material technologies.