Apple's Patented Idea of Displays Doubling as a Speaker Could Come to Life with New Gorilla Glass from Corning
This past summer Apple was granted a patent for flexible displays with unique functionality. One of the noted unique properties was that it could allow the display of an iPhone or future TV, for instance, to act as a speaker. Audio would simply go through the display, illuminating the need to build speaker grills on devices. Esthetically speaking, that would be something that Apple's industrial designer Jony Ive would love to boast about. As crazy as that invention sounded at the time, we find out today that Corning actually has this type of display in their lab.
A new report by MIT Technology Review noted a one point that Corning once got a call from Steve Jobs, who needed tough glass for their first iPhone. Corning just happened to have a technology sitting on the shelf—the toughened glass that came to be called Gorilla Glass. Of course this story was covered extensively in Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs on pages 470-472 subtitled Gorilla Glass.
With one of Corning's new discoveries, you have to wonder if Apple will be calling on Corning once again to bring another idea of theirs to life.
According to the MIT report, "Corning researchers have also discovered that Gorilla Glass has useful acoustic properties. The way it vibrates is different than conventional glass—it damps sound waves. The simplest application is noise insulation—it blocks sound better than ordinary glass. But the same acoustic properties could also turn displays into speakers."
MIT's Kevin Bullis further noted that he "saw such a prototype in one of Corning's labs. A wire in the display attaches to a small actuator that vibrates the glass to produce sound waves. Because of the way the waves propagate through the glass, they can be more precisely controlled than with ordinary glass, allowing for higher quality sound reproduction."
Another Gorilla Glass project at Corning that was revealed in the MIT report was both disturbing and fascinating at the same time. Reportedly corning is working on a new display that will contain properties and technologies that could sense chemical and biological traces of sarin gas in the air or specific pathogens in water. Testing water would only mean placing a single drop on the display to know if it's safe to drink.
Yet it was the former ability that was amazing. In these crazy times of escalating terrorist attacks, who would have thought that your future smartphone may one day be able to warn you that dangerous gasses are in your environment. You could read all about that, here.