Everyone loves mysterious patents, and Apple’s newly acquired rights to “Interlocking Flexible Segments Formed From A Rigid Material” is most certainly strange enough to qualify.

As the patent’s summary puts it, “The method includes providing a substantially rigid material, such as, but not limited to, metals, alloys, hard plastics, and the like, and selectively removing portions of the rigid material defining a geometric pattern in the rigid material.”

In other words, it’s way to add a hinge to a solid piece of material by cutting it a fancy way.

So what could Apple possibly want to use such a technology for? Well, several things, apparently. The patent application shows the nifty folding technique used on everything from a notebook to what appears to be a rollable Smart Cover for the iPad.

Of course, as with all patents, there’s a decent chance that we’ll never see this feature implemented in any retail product, though the possibilities are certainly intriguing.

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