Apple files for two Patents covering future Foldable Displays that are designed to provide added Durability
On Tuesday Patently Apple posted a granted patent report titled “Apple won 69 Patents today with Two of them focused on Future Foldable Devices.” Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published two patent applications from Apple relating to “Durable foldable displays” and “Folding Displays Having Textured Flexible Areas.” Both patents could apply to a future iPhone or iPad.
Electronic Devices with Durable Folding Displays
Apple’s patent application relates to a possible future electronic device having a foldable housing with first and second portions of the display coupled to a hinge for rotation about a bend axis.
A foldable display may be mounted to the foldable housing. The foldable display may have a display cover layer and a flexible display panel. The foldable display may bend around a bend axis. The display panel may have an array of pixels configured to display an image through the display cover layer.
The display cover layer may be formed from a layer of glass. A recess may be formed in the layer of glass that extends along the bend axis. The recess may form a flexible locally thinned portion in the layer of glass that allows the glass layer to bend about the bend axis.
To ensure that the display cover layer exhibits satisfactory impact resistance during drop events, corner portions and other edge portions of the display cover layer may have increased thickness relative to other portions of the display cover layer outside of the locally thinned portion.
The hinge and/or other structures in the display may be configured to help hold the display flat when unfolded during normal use, while causing the display to slightly fold about the bend axis when the electronic device is jolted during a drop event. This helps prevent the display from impacting a hard surface while fully opened.
Apple’s patent FIG. 2 below is a perspective view of an illustrative electronic device with a foldable display; FIG. 8 is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative display cover layer with a locally thinned portion that runs along a bend axis and end edge portions of enhanced thickness.
Apple’s patent FIG. 15 above is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative hinge for a foldable electronic device based on a spring-loaded cam mechanism.
While not the core of the patent, Apple lists an extensive list of possible sensors associated with this future foldable that are worth noting:
“Sensors in input-output devices may include force sensors (e.g., strain gauges, capacitive force sensors, resistive force sensors, etc.), audio sensors such as microphones, touch and/or proximity sensors such as capacitive sensors (e.g., a two-dimensional capacitive touch sensor integrated into the display, a two-dimensional capacitive touch sensor overlapping the display, and/or a touch sensor that forms a button, trackpad, or other input device not associated with a display), and other sensors.
If desired, the sensors may include optical sensors such as optical sensors that emit and detect light, ultrasonic sensors, optical touch sensors, optical proximity sensors, and/or other touch sensors and/or proximity sensors, monochromatic and color ambient light sensors, image sensors, fingerprint sensors, temperature sensors, sensors for measuring three-dimensional non-contact gestures ("air gestures"), pressure sensors, sensors for detecting position, orientation, and/or motion (e.g., accelerometers, magnetic sensors such as compass sensors, gyroscopes, and/or inertial measurement units that contain some or all of these sensors), health sensors, radio-frequency sensors, depth sensors (e.g., structured light sensors and/or depth sensors based on stereo imaging devices that capture three-dimensional images), optical sensors such as self-mixing sensors and light detection and ranging (lidar) sensors that gather time-of-flight measurements, humidity sensors, moisture sensors, gaze tracking sensors, and/or other sensors
For more on this, review Apple’s patent application 20220225523.
Electronic Devices with Foldable Displays having Textured Flexible Areas
In Apple’s second related patent for foldable displays, Apple notes that the display cover layer may be formed from a layer of glass. An elongated groove or other recess may be formed in the layer of glass that runs parallel to the bend axis while overlapping the bend axis. The recess may form a flexible locally thinned portion in the glass layer. This thinned portion allows the display cover layer to bend as the foldable device is opened and closed.
Polymer may be placed in the recess to help planarize the inner side of the display cover layer adjacent to the display panel. To promote wetting and adhesion of the polymer in the recess and to help reduce reflections, the inner surface of thinned portion of the display cover may be provided with a rough texture.
Apple’s patent FIG. 8 below is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative display cover layer having a locally thinned portion with a rough surface texture; FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative display cover layer with a textured surface.
(Click on image to Enlarge)
For more details, review Apple's patent application number 20220225492.
Considering that these are patent applications, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.