Apple continues their work on a Folding iPhone by focusing on new Flexible Sensors, a new Flexible Battery & Circuits
One particular invention of Apple that appears to be getting a lot of attention over the years is one focused on a possible future iPhone that would be able to bend and even fold. The first invention surfaced in 2013 and since then Apple has been granted three patents for it, with its last being received on May 15, 2018. Over the years, the original invention has been extended to cover a lot of territory.
The last granted patent added new patent claims completely focused on mild bending for Apple Watch. This could very well have been executed in Apple Watch Series 4 to provide the display with the ability to be larger and basically doing away with the large bezel surrounding older Apple Watches.
I was looking at my wife's Apple Watch this morning and it's quite clear how Apple did away with the large bezel in the new watch which allows the interface to be extended closer to the edge of the glass. The new display works in concert with another patent detailing how the new user interface could be pushed right to the edges of the glass that we pointed out yesterday.
Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published Apple's "continuation patent application" 20180260072. So what did Apple add to their patent claims this time around to warrant the "continuation" of this invention? As with the last continuation patent, Apple adds a whole new dimension to their invention.
Apple actually strengthens the heart of the invention, a folding iPhone. Patent claims are legally worded so the description found in each patent claim outlined below is choppy in nature. Patent claims are what are fought out in court when a patent is challenged and so the claims are brief, dry and to the point. Patent claims outline what Apple wants protected by law.
While all of the patent claims in unison paint the complete folding iPhone picture, here are some of the key additions to this invention from Apple's last continuation patent:
Patent Claim #1: "An electronic device, comprising: a foldable housing operable to be folded and unfolded, wherein the foldable housing has first, second, and third housing portions, wherein the foldable housing is configured to fold along a first fold axis between the first and second housing portions and a second fold axis between the second and third housing portions; a display that overlaps the first, second, and third housing portions; a sensor that detects when the foldable housing is folded and unfolded; and processing circuitry that turns on the display when the housing is unfolded and turns off the display when the housing is folded."
Patent Claim #2: The electronic device defined in claim 1 wherein the display comprises organic light-emitting diode [OLED] pixels.
Patent Claim #4: The electronic device defined in claim 1 further comprising a flexible battery.
Patent Claim #5: The electronic device defined in claim 1 further comprising a printed circuit that folds at first and second locations.
Patent Claim #6: The electronic device defined in claim 1 wherein the housing has an adjustable flexibility.
Patent Claim #9: The electronic device defined in claim 1 further comprising a flexible touch sensor.
Patent Claim #11: 11. An electronic device comprising: a foldable display configured to be folded and unfolded, wherein the foldable display has first and second display portions, wherein the foldable display bends along a fold axis between the first and second portions; a housing having a first rigid portion that supports the first display portion and a second rigid portion that supports the second display portion; a touch sensor that detects touch input on the foldable display; and a processor that adjusts a shape of the foldable display in response to the touch input.
Apple's current patent application was filed back on May 8, 2018, just 7 days prior to their May 15th granted patent for the same invention with different patent claims. See our original report here for Apple's overview of the invention and more patent figures.
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