Apple Invention Reveals a Cracked Cover Glass Detection System that Notifies Users with Needed Repairs
Patently Apple posted a report back in February titled "Apple Invents New Cracked Cover Glass Sensors to Assist Apple Design Better Crack Resistant Glass and More." We noted in our February report that in 2015 Motorola had conducted a survey relating to cracked smartphone screens. The results found that 50 percent of people globally have experienced a cracked smartphone screen at least once. Interestingly enough the U.S. had the smallest overall percentage at 34 percent while India had the highest with 65 percent.
Yesterday Apple's second invention covering the detection of fine cracks in a mobile device display surfaced at the U.S. Patent Office. New approaches to the problem are presented in this invention and the ultimate solution is to create a communication system that notifies the user of the extent of the display damage with instructions to either contact Apple or a local carrier about repairs. In some cases the notification could also be sent to the user's Mac should the message sent to their iDevice fails to be delivered.
The cover glass of an iDevice may crack or break when the cover glass impacts a surface, such as when the device is dropped. This kind of damage may only be recognized by visual inspection. If the user of a device does not notice the damage, the user may continue using the device without seeking repair despite risk of further impairment to the device related to the damage.
Even if the user notices the damage, the user may not be aware of the risks. Another party may be aware of the risks, such as a provider of the device, but may not be aware of the damage unless the user informs them. Without awareness, the other party may not have an opportunity to warn the user about continuing to use the damaged device.
Glass Breakage Detection
Apple's invention relates to detecting breakage in a glass or other breakable external component, such as the cover glass of a display. One or more emitters emit one or more waves that travel via the glass. One or more receivers are configured to receive the waves from the glass. Damage to the glass, cracks for example, interrupts and/or interferes with travel of the waves via the glass. The presence and/or absence of damage to the glass is determined based on whether or not the receivers receive the waves. The location of damage to the glass may also be determined based on whether or not the receivers receive the waves.
In various embodiments, an electronic device includes an external component; a sensor operable to receive a signal that travels via the external component; and a processing unit, coupled to the sensor, that determines damage to the external component by determining whether the sensor receives the signal.
In some examples, the external component is optically transparent. In numerous examples, the signal is an optical signal. A wavelength of the optical signal may be outside a visible spectrum.
In various examples, the signal travels through the external component. The signal may travel through the external component due to internal reflection of the signal within the external component. In other examples, the signal travels on a surface of the external component.
In numerous examples, the sensor is located adjacent an edge of the external component. In various implementations of these examples, the electronic device further includes an emitter located adjacent a center of the external component that emits the signal.
In some implementations, the electronic device may be configured (for example, by including and/or activating one or more communication components) to transmit information regarding a crack, break, or other damage (collectively, "cracks"), or detection of a crack to another electronic device.
In some embodiments, the other electronic device may be a server or other computing device operated by the provider (for example, the seller, manufacturer, and so on) of the electronic device. The provider may use this information in various ways. For example, the provider may signal the electronic device 100 to present warnings regarding the risks to the electronic device 100 of continuing to operate the electronic device 100, present repair suggestions or warranty information, schedule warranty services, and so on.
In other embodiments, the other electronic device may be another device with which the user interacts or has interacted with recently, such as the user's computer in examples where the electronic device is the user's smart phone.
Apple's patent FIG. 8 depicts a schematic cross-sectional view of a second example configuration of components that may be used in an electronic device to detect damage to a cover glass; FIG. 9 depicts a a third example configuration of components that may be used to detect damage to a cover glass; FIG. 14 depicts a second example method for detecting damage to a ceramic component, such as a cover glass.
More specifically, Apple's patent FIG. 8 depicts a schematic cross-sectional view of a second example configuration of components that may be used in an electronic device to detect damage to a cover glass. FIG. 8 includes multiple emitters 802A, 802B that emit multiple waves 804A, 804B, 804C, 804D or other signals that travel through the cover glass and are received by multiple receivers 803A, 803B or other sensors.
Apple's patent FIG. 9 presents a third example configuration, a single centrally located emitter #902 that emits multiple waves #904A-904L or other signals and an array of receivers 903A-903L or other sensors. As the waves 904A-904L radiate outward from the emitter #902 to the receivers #903A-903L, damage within a radius #911 between adjacent waves #904A-904L may be determined by analyzing which receivers #903A-903L receive which waves #904A-904L.
Lastly, Apple notes that failure of a receiver to receive a particular wave emitted by a particular emitter may indicate damage in an area of the glass between the receiver and that particular emitter. Waves emitted by particular emitters that are received by particular receivers may indicate undamaged areas of the glass between those particular emitters and receivers. Similarly, waves emitted by particular emitters that are not received by particular receivers may indicate damaged areas of the glass between those particular emitters and receivers. In this way, information regarding which waves are and are not received by which receivers may indicate the specific location(s) of damage to the glass.
Apple's patent application 20170276618 was filed back in March 2016.
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