Apple has Won another Patent for a Possible Future Portable Device that Supports an Expandable Display
Apple's first scrollable device invention surfaced back in 2016 in our report titled "Apple Advances their Work on a Future Scrollable-Like Digital Newspaper Device." Apple's first granted patent for a possible future scrollable device was covered back in 2017. " Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Apple another patent regarding a possible future portable device that supports an expandable display.
Samsung introduced their "Flex Hybrid" tablet concept at CES 2023 that is both a folding display with an added scrollable slide-out segment that expands the display. Apple's granted patent supports the slide-out display technology.
A Future iDevice with an Expandable Display
Apple's granted patent focuses on a mobile device, mainly an iPad or iPhone with an expandable flexible display that wraps around one or more rollers. In a stored position, the flexible display may be wrapped around a storage roller.
Optional deployment rollers may be used to help deploy the display as the display is pulled out of the housing. A flexible display may be viewable through a transparent housing window before and after the flexible display is pulled out of the housing.
An electronic device may have first and second housing portions and a flexible display that can be either stored in one or both housing portions or that may be scrolled out to form a planar display surface that extends between housing portions.
Elongated bistable support members may run along the edges of the display or may be overlapped by a central active area of the display to help stiffen and support the display in its extended position.
Magnets may be used to outwardly bias edge-mounted bistable support structures and thereby help prevent a rolled flexible display from wrinkling.
The electronic device may have housing portions that are rotatably coupled to each other with hinges or other bendable structures so that the flexible display may fold along the bend axes.
Magnets may be used to releasably couple the housing portions to each other. Movable support structures such as movable members coupled by springs or other flexible structures may be move between first and second positions. When the device is unfolded and the flexible display is planar and unfolded, the movable support structures may be moved towards the bend axis to support the flexible display.
When the device is folded, the movable support structures may be moved away from the bend axis to help allow the flexible display and device to fold about the bend axis.
An electronic device may have both rigid and flexible displays. A rigid display such as a touch screen display may be mounted in the housing and may serve as a virtual keyboard.
A flexible display that is stored on a roller in the housing may be pulled out from the display when it is desired to provide a user with expanded display area. The flexible display may have a first surface with a pixel array that displays images and an opposing second surface that serves as a protective outer covering layer when the flexible display overlaps the touch screen display. The flexible display may be supported at a diagonal angle with respect to the touch screen display or other suitable angle.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 below is a perspective view of a scrollable device having a flexible display extended between two housing structures; FIG. 17 is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative electronic device with a scrolling flexible display deployed using multiple internal rollers.
Apple's patent FIG. 6 above is a top view of device #10 in an illustrative configuration in which the housing for the device has a main portion (housing structure 12-1) and has a smaller portion (housing structure 12-2) that is used as a support bar to help pull flexible display #14 off of a roller within the interior of structures #12-1. Bistable support strips such as tape #32 may be used to help support the flexible display when the flexible display is in its deployed state as shown in FIG. 6.
The device of FIG. 6 and the other FIGS. may include electrical components which could include integrated circuits, sensors, connectors, batteries, audio circuits, speakers, microphones, and other input-output devices and control circuitry.
The electrical components may be mounted on one or more substrates (e.g., printed circuits). Substrates for mounting components may be formed from plastic, glass, ceramic, other dielectric materials, printed circuit structures (e.g., rigid printed circuits formed from fiberglass-filled epoxy or other rigid printed circuit material and/or flexible printed circuits formed from flexible layers of polyimide or sheets of other polymer substrate materials), or other substrate material.
A Few Technical Points from Apple's Patent Claims
A foldable electronic device, comprising: a first housing portion; a second housing portion that is coupled to the first housing portion along a bend axis about which the first and second housing portions rotate; a flexible display that overlaps the first and second housing portions and that bends along the bend axis when the first and second housing portions rotate between an unfolded planar state and a folded state; and a support structure that extends between the first and second housing portions, wherein the support structure is configured to support the flexible display in the unfolded planar state and to allow the flexible display to expand in the folded state, the flexible display has a first end and a second end, the first end and the second end are separated by a first distance when the flexible display is in the folded state, and a central portion of the display is separated by a second distance when the flexible display is in the folded state.
An electronic device, comprising: a housing having a first portion and a second portion and having a window between the first portion and the second portion; a roller in the first portion of the housing; and a flexible display having an array of pixels, a first edge coupled to the roller, and a second edge, wherein the flexible display is configured to move from an unrolled state to a rolled state as it is wrapped around the roller, the first and second portions of the housing are separated by a gap when the flexible display is in the unrolled state, the first portion of the housing contacts the second portion of the housing when the flexible display is in the rolled state, and a portion of the array of pixels is visible through the window when the flexible display is in the rolled state.
The electronic device's transparent window comprises glass.
For more details on Apple's granted patent in general and to review Apple's additional 15 newly additional patent claims, review Apple's granted patent US 11586251 B2.