Never mind Google Glass, let's talk Apple glass. While Apple files manufacturing patents all of the time, the one that fansite Apple Insider discovered was filed on Monday just caught our eye: U.S. Patent No. 8,773,848, which covers "Fused glass device housings."
The patent describes a manufacturing process whereby glass pieces can be fused together and subsequently machined. This isn't solely to create seamless monolithic objects, as the company envisions creating raised glass protrusions to break up the surface at points. In addition, they're even talking about adding internal support ribs, taking a page from plastics' book. Here are some of the relevant points:
A rounded edge feature may be formed by machining the thickened edge.
Raised fused glass features may surround openings in the planar glass member.
Multiple planar glass members may be fused together to form a five-sided box in which electronic components may be mounted.
Raised support structure ribs may be formed by fusing glass structures to a planar glass member.
Opaque masking material and colored glass may be used to create portions of the glass housing structures that hide internal device components from view.
While sapphire appears to be what's going in the next generation of iPhones, it will be interesting to see what they might produce using fused glass in future—and how these devices may be truly impossible to open.