Apple Patents: The 9 Coolest Product Concepts (PICTURES)

Apple is a design-centric tech company, which means Steve Jobs and his staff like to think outside the box. In doing such, the company's inventors sometimes come up with radical new product ideas that push the envelope of consumer electronics.

"We're constantly focusing on innovating," Apple COO Tim Cook said in a 2009 earnings call. "We believe in the simple, not the complex. We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make, and participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution."

Apple has registered thousands of patents in its history. According to Apple Insider, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted the company 563 patents in 2010 alone. While many of these filings are meant to protect existing technologies, others hint at secret innovations to come.

We've selected the 9 coolest Apple patents ever filed. While there's no guarantee that any of these concepts will ever see the light of day, we like to see how far outside the lines Apple's coloring. Take a look at these ambitious designs and vote for the most amazing. Which would you most like to see in an Apple store? Let us know in the comments. Then, check out 27 stunning (unofficial) Apple concepts, designed by Apple enthusiasts.

9 Coolest Apple Patents