On March 27, 2013, US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that reveals a stunning future iPhone with a wraparound display so that both sides of this iPhone will be able to display content either individually or as one continuous display. The wraparound display will also apply to Apple's possible future wristband communication device or iWatch revealed in February. Today's invention focuses on the flexible wraparound display that could be fashioned in aluminum, aluminum and glass or a fully transparent design. This future iPhone design won't have any physical buttons so controlling the audio on the iPhone will simply require you to hover your hand over the side of the display to temporarily illustrate the controls. The new design could also produce 3D visuals through its unique dual display design. This is certainly one of Apple's hottest inventions of the year.
Apple's Patent Background
In the last few years the functionality of portable electronic devices has increased exponentially. Further improvements maybe realized by investigating ways to maximize the utility of unused portions of these devices. Form factor is an interesting area for development given that a large majority of portable electronic devices have settled into a standard form factor; namely a flat planar form factor with a display on one side and an opaque housing which contains the electrical components covering the rear surface of the device. Unfortunately, this popular form factor, leaves the sides and rear surfaces of the device unused or at best configured with buttons and switches with fixed location and functionality. Since many of these buttons and switches have fixed functionality they cannot always be incorporated into third party applications.
A Future Apple iDevice with Wraparound Display
Apple's invention describes various embodiments that relate to an apparatus, method, and computer readable medium for creating a portable electronic device with a wraparound display.
In one embodiment, a consumer electronic product is described which includes at least a transparent housing and a flexible display assembly enclosed within the transparent housing. In the described embodiment, the flexible display assembly is configured to present visual content at any portion of the transparent housing.
In one aspect of the described embodiment, the consumer electronic product includes a second flexible display assembly. The second display acts to present visual content in cooperation with the flexible display assembly.
In another embodiment, a method for assembly of a multi-display portable electronic device is described. The method is carried out by performing at least the following operations:
Receiving a transparent enclosure, shaping a flexible display to conform to a cross section of the transparent enclosure, inserting the shaped flexible display into the transparent enclosure.
Subsequent to the inserting, the shaped flexible display returns to an original shape that causes a display portion of the flexible display to press against an interior surface of the transparent enclosure. The method also includes the operation of enclosing the inserted flexible display into the enclosure.
An iPhone with Wraparound Display
Apple's patent FIG. 4 shows a perspective view of a possible future iPhone design with a wraparound display which substantially increases the available display area that can be used for display of icons, data, images, video and such. Note that while the design is illustrating an older 30 pin connector, Apple's Lightning had yet to be announced. Patent illustrations are to represent a general overview and not necessarily the exact design. We can fully expect Lighting to be implemented should Apple use this design in the future.
For example, as shown in FIG. 4, up to five application icons can be presented across the span of the width of display 401. Microphones 402 and speaker 404 support the device to be used as a future iPhone.
Virtual Controls to Replace Physical Buttons
Furthermore, virtualization of the physical buttons allows for expanded functionality. For example, volume control 406 can be located at roughly the same position it would be if it were configured as a physical button; however, in this configuration the actual volume setting can be seen at any time (indicated by the circle between the + and - indicators). Additionally, by holding a finger over the volume indicator an action could be triggered expanding the volume control over the entire left side of the device.
Once the adjustment control is released the control can return to its original size. A hold switch is another popular function that is often assigned to a physical button. Instead of the hold button a multi touch gesture along one of the sides could instead act as a method of locking and unlocking the hold function.
Additional features that can be well suited for this design include various cameras. It should be noted that since the future iPhone can present visual content in any direction, it is important for the iPhone to be able to determine a current location of the end-user. In this way, any of the cameras can periodically capture an image and using basic facial recognition software, one or more of cameras can be used to track the movement the end user's face in the space around it and as such be able to determine a general direction of the end-user and the field of vision of the end user and adjust the presentation of visual content by display accordingly.
The iPhone's Body could be Aluminum or Optically Transparent Glass
Apple's patent FIG. 1A illustrated below shows the housing 102 alongside representative flexible display assembly 104. The housing can take many forms and can be multi-part in which a portion is metallic in nature (such as aluminum) whereas another portion can be formed of optically transparent material such as glass. Apple states that the design could also be fully formed of transparent (or at least semi-transparent) material such as glass.
To further provide an aesthetically pleasing appearance, the glass can also be coated with an oleophobic coating to reduce finger prints and smudging on the glass. The glass can also be coated with an anti-reflective coating to reduce glare.
It should be noted that glass has been used in a wide variety of products, including electronic devices, such as watches and phones.
Shaping the Flexible Display
Apple states that one of the advantages of using a polyimide substrate is that the AMOLED display screen can be heated that allows the AMOLED display screen to be configured into any number of shapes. Moreover, once the heat is removed, the AMOLED display will then "remember" the original shape even if temporarily rolled up or flattened out. In this way, by heating AMOLED display assembly while configured in a shape in accordance with transparent housing AMOLED display assembly easily conforms to the shape of transparent housing.
For example, FIG. 1B illustrated above shows a preheated AMOLED display assembly 104 temporarily rolled up as it is placed into lumen 112 of transparent housing 102. Once inside the transparent housing, the AMOLED display assembly can be released resulting in the AMOLED display assembly "unwinding" to assume the shape of lumen 112 of the transparent housing in such a way that the AMOLED display assembly is arrayed against the interior surface of the transparent housing.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 shows a perspective view of this future iPhone as internal components are being inserted into transparent housing.
Apple's patent FIGS. 5A, 5B, and 5C illustrate a variety of additional representative form factors.
Apple's patent FIGS. 7A and 7B, illustrate that a second flexible display can be inserted subsequent (or concurrent with) the insertion of the first flexible display. More particularly, FIGS. 7A and 7B show us a multiple display iPhone form factor. This future iPhone can include first flexible display 702 and second flexible display 704. In one embodiment, the first flexible display and the second flexible display can present visual content independent of each other. In alternative embodiments, the first flexible display and the second flexible display can cooperatively present visual content.
This Future iPhone May be able to Deliver 3D Experiences
Apple also states that visual content can be presented by the first flexible display out of a temporal phase with the visual content presented by second flexible display. In this way, an illusion of depth perception can be presented mimicking a 3D experience.
Photos and Video can be presented in a Continuous Loop around the Display
In one embodiment, utilizing a flexible display can provide additional viewing area without increasing either the size or shape of the electronic device. For example, a flexible display can be folded in such a way as to form a continuous loop such that images (still or video) can be presented in a wrap-around manner in which the images appear to be presented in a continuous loop.
Apple credits Scott Myers as the sole inventor of this patent application which was originally filed under serial number 245646 in Q3 2011. Patently Apple's report is based on Apple's Detailed Description of the patent. See Apple's patent to review its claims. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing to market of such an Apple product is unknown.
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Sites Covering our Original Report
MacDailyNews, Benzinga, NASDAQ article, GottaBeMobile, Cult of Mac, iPhoneinCanada, Business Insider, Business Journal Silicon Valley, Financial Post, Bio Bio Technologia Chile, Phonedog, Mashable, AppleWorld Poland, Feeder Israel, MobileGeeks Germany, VIDI Croatia, Appleteam Greece, Applefobia Poland, Deasy Greece, iAppsHellas Greece, 36kr Korea, ifanr China, The TabTimes, V3 UK, phones review UK, iPhone 6 News Blog, Racunalniske-Novice Slovenia, MacSurfer, Google News, Twitter, Facebook, Apple Investor News, Gizmodo Spain, hckr news, Macnews, DAG Italy, News Freedom Hong Kong, and more
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