The first Apple patent of the day that surprised us was all about an incredible smart bezel using a secondary printed segmented electroluminescence display that would allow for hidden illuminated controls on devices such as the iPad. Apple's second patent surprise of the day is all about Apple devising a next generation iPhone that would effectively offer us a smart hybrid display that could switch between a standard LCD and an e-Paper display. In fact, it's so smart that the display could actually subdivide itself into quadrants that could intelligently switch display types depending on the content that the user is running. That would work very nicely with Apple's proposed use of Spaces on future iOS devices.
The Problem to Solve
Apple states that traditional electronic devices include a single display for outputting visual content. For example, a traditional device may include a liquid crystal display (LCD) or organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display for outputting color visual content. In another example, a traditional device may include an electronic paper display for outputting black-and-white visual content using minimal power. The type of display included in a traditional electronic device is typically based on an assumption about the visual content it will most often display because different types of displays may be optimal, in performance or efficiency, for different types of visual content.
For example, an LCD or OLED display may be optimal for high-resolution or dynamic color content while an electronic paper display may be optimal for relatively static black-and-white content. However, a traditional device may display multiple types of visual content even though its display may only be optimal for a single type of visual content.
Apple patent covers systems and methods for switching between an electronic paper display and a video display based on at least one feature of visual content.
According to Apple, control circuitry in an electronic device could analyze visual content to determine one or more features of the visual content. For example, the control circuitry could analyze visual content to determine the rate of change and/or color composition of the visual content. Based on the one or more features, the control circuitry could selectively enable the device's electronic paper display or the device's video display.
In some embodiments, portions of a device's electronic paper display and video display may be selectively enabled based on the visual content to be displayed in that portion. For example, an electronic device may divide visual content into different segments (e.g., different regions of a screen), analyze each segment, and then selectively enable a combination of electronic paper display regions and video display regions based on the visual content of each segment.
In some embodiments, the electronic paper display and the video display may each be stacked vertically. For example, the electronic paper display can be stacked over the video display or the video display can be stacked over the electronic paper display. In some embodiments, an electronic device may direct the electronic paper display or the video display to configure itself to be translucent. For example, if an electronic paper display is stacked over a video display and the video display is selectively enabled, the electronic display may direct the electronic paper display to configure itself into a translucent state so that the video display is visible.
About Apple's Future Electronic Paper Display
According to the patent, the electronic paper display may include any suitable electronic ink display. In some embodiments, the electronic paper display may include an electronic paper display incorporating E Ink available from E Ink of Corporation of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
An electronic paper display may include individually addressable microcapsules (e.g., microglobules), and each microcapsule may contain particles of different colors. For example, each microcapsule may contain white and black particles suspended in a fluid. Particles of different colors may have different charges, and the particles within a microcapsule may be configured by applying a charge to the microcapsule.
For example, applying a negative electric charge under a microcapsule may repel all positively charged particles in the microcapsule to the top of the microcapsule, and the microcapsule may appear to be the color of the positively charged particles. In some embodiments, the electronic paper display may be configured to be translucent. This is partly illustrated in patent FIGS. 4a/b and 6a/b above.
An electronic paper display could display visual content in black-and-white or grayscale. In some embodiments, the electronic paper display could display visual content in color at any suitable brightness level or resolution. In some embodiments, the brightness level or resolution of the electronic paper display could be adjusted by a user (e.g., through display configuration options).
How Switching Display Modes will be Handled
Apple describes various triggers that would automatically switch your display from video to e-paper. For example, an iPhone may analyze visual content to determine one or more features of the visual content and then, based on the determined one or more features, display the visual content on the electronic paper display, the video display and, believe it or not, a combination thereof.
Example #1: when visual content has a simple color composition, the iPhone could provide the visual content through the electronic paper display in black-and-white or grayscale. Continuing the example, when visual content has a complex color composition, the iPhone could provide the visual content through its video display in robust color. In this manner, the iPhone could provide visual content on a display appropriate for the color composition of the content.
Example #2: when visual content has a low rate of change (e.g., relatively static content such as text), the iPhone could provide the visual content through the electronic paper display. Continuing the example, when visual content has a high rate of change (e.g., relatively dynamic content such as video), the iPhone could provide the visual content through its video display.
Split Screen Hybrid Display
In some embodiments, a composite display may include regions that could be independently switched between a portion of an electronic paper display and a portion of a video display. For example, a composite display may be divided into quadrants and each quadrant may be independently switching between a corresponding region of an electronic paper display and a corresponding region of a video display.
Apple's patent FIG. 3 shown below is a schematic view of an iPhone for switching between an electronic paper display and a video display.
Apple's patent FIG. 7 is a schematic view of an illustrative display for configuring a device to switch between electronic paper and video displays
Apple credits Gloria Lin and Andrew Hodge as the inventors of patent application 20110080417, originally filed in Q4 2009.
Notice: Patently Apple presents only a brief summary of patents with associated graphic(s) for journalistic news purposes as each such patent application is revealed by the U.S. Patent & Trade Office. Readers are cautioned that the full text of any patent application should be read in its entirety for further details. Patents shouldn't be digested as rumors or fast-tracked according to rumor time tables. Apple patents represent true research that could lead to future products and should be understood in that light. About Comments: Patently Apple reserves the right to post, dismiss or edit comments.
Here are Some Great Community Sites that are Covering our Original Report
MacSurfer, Apple Investor News, Google Reader, UpgradeOSX, iPhone World Canada, CBS MarketWatch, MacTech, Petanews Germany, MacDailyNews, MacRumors, 9to5 Mac, OS X Daily, Mela blog Italy, Redmond Pie, Macmagazine Brazil, Phones Review UK, TiStory Korea, iPhone Download Blog, Glass Box Korean, PC Magazine, Pocketnow, ITProPortal UK, iPhoneros Cost Rica, Mi iPod Touch Spanish, Macpages Russia, Bitscloud, Teknologi Inilah Indonesia, Tainted Green, Zive Czech Republic, UltiMovil Spain, iLounge, YuYuLaw China, Future Documents Xerox, and more.