∞ Making the impossible possible

Adam Satariano and Peter Burrows for Businessweek:

About five years ago, Apple (AAPL) design guru Jony Ive decided he wanted a new feature for the next MacBook: a small dot of green light above the screen, shining through the computer’s aluminum casing to indicate when its camera was on. The problem? It’s physically impossible to shine light through metal.Ive called in a team of manufacturing and materials experts to figure out how to make the impossible possible, according to a former employee familiar with the development who requested anonymity to avoid irking Apple. The team discovered it could use a customized laser to poke holes in the aluminum small enough to be nearly invisible to the human eye but big enough to let light through.

For me, “make the impossible possible,” sums up a lot of things at Apple. That’s why they lead in so many markets.



  • His Shadow

    Is this not how the battery indicators are done as well?

  • Joe Schmoe

    What! You’re telling me it’s not transparent aluminum?!? No!

  • Anonymous

    It’s not as easy to see on MacBook Pro because of the glass, but on MacBook Air you can see this really clearly. The light on the Apple Wireless Keyboard is also done this way. When I discovered it on the Apple Wireless Keyboard, I remember I kept turning it on and off to see how the light was shining through the aluminum.

    This seems like a small detail, but over time it is a large detail, because they make so many of each device. And as usual, fewer parts, less complexity, more ruggedness.

    It’s really a joy to watch them work, especially when you know that the Mac you buy in 3 years to replace your current Mac will have improvements to every single component.