Apple invents a Motorized Self-Retracting Folding Device Hinge that partially or fully closes during a Drop Event to protect its display
A Self-Retracting Folding Device to Protect a Display in a Drop Event
Apple notes in their patent filing that mobile devices with thin-screen displays may be vulnerable if the display strikes the ground after dropping. Certain foldable displays and rollable displays can be especially vulnerable due to use of ultra-thin glass displays which can be especially vulnerable. It would be advantageous to detect when a device is falling to implement protection features such as partially or fully closing the device to protect its display.
Mobile devices with foldable and rollable displays can use a sensor to detect vertical acceleration (e.g., acceleration with respect to the ground) to determine if the mobile device has been dropped. If the sensor detects that the mobile device has been dropped the foldable device can retract at least partially to afford protection from the fragile display from striking the ground. Even folding the display to an angle less the 180 degrees can afford some protection because the mobile device can strike edges of the mobile device instead of the display itself. In various embodiments, a rollable device can retract the display if predetermined acceleration limits are exceeded.
In an aspect an electronic device can include a first display coupled to a second display via a hinged connection. In various embodiments, the first display and the second display can each be portions of a foldable display. The sensor used to detect vertical acceleration can be an accelerometer (e.g., as part of an inertial measure unit (IMU)). If the vertical acceleration exceeds a predetermined threshold, a release mechanism operating with a hinged connection can be used to reduce the angle between the first display and the second display below a threshold angle when the predetermined acceleration threshold is exceeded. In various embodiments, the threshold angle can be less than 180 degrees.
In various embodiments, the release mechanism can include a motorized hinge. In other embodiments, the release mechanism can include a mechanical hinge with a spring-loaded detent.
The first display or the second display can be a light emitting diode display such as an organic light emitting diode display.
In an aspect, an electronic device can include a foldable display coupled on one edge of the foldable device to a roller. The electronic device can include an acceleration sensor configured to detect a vertical acceleration of the electronic device exceeding a predetermined vertical acceleration threshold. The acceleration sensor can be an inertial measurement unit. The electronic device can include a release mechanism operating with the roller to automatically retract the foldable display on the roller when the detected vertical acceleration exceeds a predetermined acceleration threshold.
In various embodiments, the release mechanism comprises a motorized hinge. In other embodiments, the release mechanism comprises a mechanical hinge with a spring-loaded detent.
In various embodiments the foldable display can include a substrate including a first side and a second side, a first wiring layer on the first side, an array of LEDs on and in electrical contact with the first wiring layer on the first side of the substrate, and a second wiring layer on the second side of the substrate. The array of LEDs can include both inorganic LEDs and organic LEDs. The foldable display can include a plurality of interconnects extending between and electrically connecting the first wiring layer to the second wiring layer.
In various embodiments, the release mechanism comprises a motorized hinge. In various embodiments, the release mechanism comprises a mechanical hinge with a spring-loaded detent.
In various embodiments, the threshold angle is less than 180 degrees. In various embodiments, the first display or the second display is an organic light emitting diode display. The first display and the second display can each comprise regions of a foldable display.
Apple's patent FIG. 25 below is an exemplary embodiment of a device with a foldable display incorporating display protective features; FIG. 26A is an exemplary embodiment of a device with a motorized release mechanism; and FIG. 26B is an exemplary embodiment of a device with a spring-loaded detent release mechanism.
More specifically, Apple's patent FIG. 25 above illustrates an exemplary depiction of the protective features of the exemplary foldable device. In a first position #1502, the foldable device #10 is dropped from a height #2504 above the ground. In the first position, the display is unfolded or flat. The device can include edges #2504 around the display #14. The edges can be reinforced to be able to withstand forces.
A sensor in the device senses the acceleration of the device. If the acceleration of the device exceeds a predetermined threshold, protective features are engaged to protect the display.
For example, if the device is dropped from a height #2506, the sensor in the device can detect the acceleration or motion and after a threshold limit is reached the protective features of the device can be engaged. The protective features can include folding the display about the hinge so the angle between either the two displays or two portions of the same display are at an angle #2508 less than 180 degrees. In this way, in a second position #2510 the device can strike the ground so that the display is protected. The device can strike on the edges #2504 instead of the display, in order for the edges to absorb the forces from the drop.
For more on this invention that also touches on other foldable and scrollable devices, review Apple's patent application number US 20230079485 A1.
- Hoon Kim: Product Design – Special Project Group (SPG)
- Michael Wittenberg: Senior Product Design Engineer