On September 12th Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple Introduces the 'Game Changing' Apple Watch Series 4 that delivers a Powerful FDA Approved ECG." In that report I pointed to 2 patents supporting rounded corners and smooth edges for the UI. The patent figures looked like an engineer's table napkin scribble.
Today one of those patent figures (as present below) have shown up in another patent application from Apple titled "Display with Pixel Dimming for Curved Edges," although professionally processed and aimed at allowing a UI to fill into the corners of the display in general and not just for the Apple Watch.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 below is a top view of an illustrative array of pixels for a display with rounded corners; FIG. 3 is a top view of an illustrative spline for a display with rounded corners; FIG. 9 is a top view of an illustrative display with a spline showing how the linear velocity associated with a given sub-pixel may be determined.
Apple notes in their patent filing that in a display, the array of pixels may form an active area of the display. It may sometimes be desirable for the active area of the display to have curved edges. For example, the active area may have four sides that are connected by four rounded corners. Each rounded corner may be defined by a spline.
Pixels in the pixel array may be controlled so that the active area of the display has the desired curved edge shape. In one scheme, pixels that are within the spline will be turned on while pixels that are not within the spline will be turned off. However, this type of arrangement may result in the curved edge appearing jagged to the user. In order to maximize the apparent smoothness of the curved edge, the display may include circuitry that dims some of the pixels without turning them entirely off.
The display circuitry may include a multiplication circuit that receives image data as a first input and dimming factors from a gain table as a second input. The image data may include a brightness level for each pixel in the array of pixels. The gain table may include a dimming factor for each pixel in the array of pixels. The multiplication circuit may multiply the brightness level for each pixel by its respective dimming factor. This modified image data may then be supplied to the imaging pixels using display driver circuitry.
The dimming factor for each pixel may be a function of the distance of the pixel from the spline. The dimming factor for each pixel may also be a function of the linear velocity associated with the location of the pixel.
Apple's patent application 20180308413 was filed back in Q2 2018. Some of the work on this dates back to 2016. It would appear that this is now a patent fulfilled with the Apple Watch and all iPhone X models using this technology.
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