Apple was Granted 37 Patents Today Covering iDevices with Shock Absorbers, Bendable OLED Displays & more
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 37 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover three distinct inventions. One covers shock absorbers built into the corners of an iDevice that are designed to eject if the iDevice is falling in order to prevent damage. A second patent covers OLED displays for iDevices that could have curved or bent angles. The third patent covers a crack detection and prevention system built into future OLED displays. And as always, we wrap up this week's granted patent report with our traditional listing of the remaining granted patents that were issued to Apple today.
Granted Patent: Flexible Display Panel with Bent Substrate
Apple's newly granted patent covers their invention relating to iDevices such as an iPhone with displays with bent portions.
More specifically, Apple's newly granted patent covers a display having an OLED display that forms an active area on a flexible substrate. Metal traces may extend between the active area and an inactive area of the flexible substrate. Display driver circuitry such as a display driver integrated circuit may be coupled to the inactive area. The metal traces may extend across a bend region in the flexible substrate. The flexible substrate may be bent in the bend region.
The flexible substrate may be made of a thin flexible material to reduce metal trace bending stress. A coating layer in the bend region may be provided with an enhanced elasticity to allow its thickness to be reduced. The flexible substrate may be bent on itself and secured within an electronic device without using a mandrel.
Apple's patent FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional side view of the layers in displays with bent flexible substrates.
Apple's granted patent 9,614,168 was originally filed in Q1 2016 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office. More details could be found in our 2016 report here.
Granted Patent: OLED Displays with Crack Detection and Crack Propagation Prevention Circuitry
OLED displays are manufactured by dicing a mother glass on which multiple instances of individual display panel structures are formed into separate pieces. When cutting along a scribe line to separate two adjacent display panels, cracks or other mechanical issues such as debonding of existing layers in the display structures may be produced. Over time, even small cracks along the edge of the display panel can propagate towards the active display region. Cracks and other defects generated in this way that encroach into the active display region can allow moisture to permeate into the active display region, which results in unpleasant growing dark spots (GDS) that is visible to a user of the electronic device.
It would therefore be desirable to be able to provide organic light-emitting diode displays edge crack propagation prevention structures.
Apple's newly granted patent covers their invention relating TO OLED displays that may be provided with crack stop structures and crack detection circuitry. The crack detection circuitry may include one or more loops that are formed along the periphery of the display. The crack stop structures may include TFT/OLED structures formed in a staggered configuration.
Apple's patent FIG. 8C noted above illustrates one suitable arrangement in which two or more crack stop structures may be formed near the edge of the display. For example, at least first crack stop structures #810-1 and second crack stop structures #810-2 that are physically separate from the first crack stop structures #810-2 may be formed directly on substrate #36 formed from polyimide (PI), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), or polyethylene naphthalate (PEN) (as examples).
Apple's granted patent 9,614,183 was originally filed in Q2 2015 and published today by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Granted Patent: Ejectable iDevice with Corner Shock Absorbers that Float
Apple's newly granted patent 9,612,622 covers their invention relating to an improved housing for portable electronic devices to protect them from shock and other elements.
For more details and graphics on this invention, see our original patent application report that was posted in November 2015, here.
With Apple obsessed with delivering cool iPhone designs, it's hard to imagine this invention ever being used in a high-end iPhone unless it was sold as a distinctly different iPhone geared for sports enthusiasts.
Apple makes specific reference in their patent filing that "many users carry these devices while engaging in strenuous activities such as running, climbing and the like. Because users are in possession of these devices in many environments, they are sometimes dropped or otherwise exposed to shock events involving rapid acceleration or deceleration."
The Remaining Patents granted to Apple Today
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