A European Apple patent reveals work on Foldable devices that use a Spring Layer to protect the display in the event of a fall & more
Today Patently Apple discovered an Apple patent filed in Europe regarding possible future foldable devices. Apple generally states that the foldable device could be a smartphone, tablet, foldable desktop with a computer embedded in the display, a TV and more. The focus of the patent is preventing damage to the display when the display is contacted by an external object. A spring layer may be interposed between the metal layer and the support layer.
Electronic Devices with Flexible Displays
Apple notes that a foldable electronic device may have a foldable housing. The foldable housing may be configured to bend about a bend axis. First and second portions of the housing that rotate relative to each other may be coupled by a hinge that is aligned with the bend axis. A foldable display may be coupled to the foldable housing and may be configured to bend along the bend axis as the foldable housing is folded. The device may be placed in a closed configuration in which the display is folded for storage and an open configuration in which the display is unfolded and available for displaying images for a user.
The foldable display may have an array of pixels supported by a metal layer. The pixels may be interposed between a display cover layer and the metal layer. The foldable housing may have a rear housing wall or other support layer. To help support the display for bending about the bend axis while preventing damage to the display when the display is contacted by an external object, a spring layer may be interposed between the metal layer and the support layer.
The spring layer may be formed from an array of springs. The springs may be formed from metal. Different springs may be formed in different areas. For example, a strip-shaped area aligned with the bend axis may have softer springs than other areas.
Sensors may be included in the spring layer. The sensors may be formed from force sensing structures such as strain gauges and may be supported on portions the springs or may be located adjacent to the springs. If desired, foam posts and other compressible structures may be interspersed with the springs to help adjust the performance of the spring layer.
For more details, review Apple's European Patent application number EP4211535.