A Google patent filed in Europe reveals that they're trying to beat Apple to market with a Pixel phone with Face Camera(s) under the Display
The number one question I get asked on a constant basis is, when will Apple kill the notch (which now includes the Dynamic Island)? Most competing smartphones today from vivo, OPPO, Samsung and Google deliver a punch hole camera design. A number of smartphones offer a pop-up camera so as to not interfere with the display at all.
While Google has yet to make a definitive mark on the top 5 global smartphone vendors to date, the company continues to innovate. They introduced their first Pixel Fold which is actually thinner than Samsung's Z Fold5 as presented below.
Their 2022 Pixel 7 Pro introduced a great zoom camera. In Mashable's review, they stated that "This is simply one of the more remarkable things I’ve seen in a smartphone camera system in a long time. You can take crystal clear photos from miles away using the Pixel 7 Pro." Google also offers excellent photo editing software like Magic Eraser.
Last week a new Google patent surfaced in Europe that details placing a camera or cameras under the display to rid itself of its Pixel 7 camera punch hole in the display. If they want to make a dent in the smartphone market, Google has to continually introduce new features that the iPhone and/or Galaxy Phones don't offer and a camera system under the display would be another leap over the iPhone.
System and Apparatus of Under-Display Camera
Google's patent application states that in order to eliminate the notch, cutout, or punch hole in a display, while also allowing for the transmission of light to a camera, computing devices can include an emissive display having one or more portion(s) through which light is transmitted to reach a one or more camera sensors located under the emissive display.
In such a configuration, the portion of the display through which light is transmitted to the camera sensor(s) functions as a portion of the light-emitting display of the computing device. However, the light-emitting display includes opaque and diffractive elements that distort light as the light is transmitted through the portion(s) of the display above the camera sensor(s).
To mitigate the impact of the distortion of light that reaches the camera sensor(s) on images formed by the sensor(s), particular patterns of opaque and diffracting elements can be used in the portion of the display above the camera sensors(s), which patterns may be different than the pattern of opaque and diffracting elements used in other portions of the display.
Further, a type of camera sensor can be selected for use under a portion (or region) of the display based on the particular patterns of opaque and diffracting elements. In addition, one or more image correction algorithms can be applied to images formed from data captured by camera sensors located under the light-emitting display, where the image correction and/or image fusion algorithms may be based on the fusion of images generated by different camera sensors, at least two of which are located under the light-emitting display.
Example implementations described in the patent allow the emissive display of the computing device display to operate over a large area of the surface of the device, without any notches, cutouts, or punch holes in the emissive display, even when a camera is positioned under the display and receives light that is transmitted through the display.
The computing device can include a display having two or more cameras located under the display, and light pass can through one or more portions or regions of the display to reach the camera(s), while the display continues to perform the functions of the display. Such example implementations are preferable to conventional displays, because a user experience is improved when the display performs the
functions of the display (e.g., displays images) over a large area of the device and allows the use of a camera without disrupting the operation of the display.
Google's patent FIGS 1B and 1C illustrate smartphones with the Pixel 7's current punch hole and an alternative design that includes a pop-up camera.
Google's patent FIG. 4A above is a schematic diagram an implementation of a display panel #400 and a sensor #402 located under the display panel. The sensor 402 can be coupled to a sensor module 403 containing control electronics for operating the sensor.
To review the deeper technical details, review Google's European patent application EP4218225 that was published on August 02, 2023. Will Google beat Apple to market with a smartphone with a camera under the display? Only time will tell.