The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 69 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover Apple's third granted patent for this particular version of a folding iPhone. In this granted patent Apple focuses on the addition of a touch sensor to control the folding action of the display and more.
More specifically, Apple has been granted patent 10,600,989 relating to a possible future folding iPhone model. Apple states that to facilitate bending of the display about the bend axis, the display may have one or more layers such as an outer display cover layer with grooves or other recesses. The display cover layer may be formed from glass or other transparent materials. The recesses may form a flexible portion in a display layer that allows glass or other transparent materials of the display layer to bend about the bend axis.
The grooves or other recesses may be filled with polymer or other materials. In some configurations, a display layer may have openings that are filled with liquids. In display layer arrangements with flexible glass or polymer structures, the material that fills the grooves or other openings in the display layer may have an index of refraction value that matches the index of refraction of the glass or polymer structures.
A hinge may be formed between rigid planar layers that are separated by a gap. The rigid planar layers may be glass layers or other transparent layers in a display or may be housing walls or other structural portions of an electronic device. Flexible layers that lie flush with opposing surfaces of the rigid planar layers may be used to span the gap and form the hinge.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a perspective view of an illustrative electronic device having a flexible display; FIGS. 3 and 4 are cross-sectional side views of electronic devices with flexible displays. They represent smartphones that are known to either have a "Fold out" and/or "Fold in" displays.
In Apple's third granted patent, the patent claims present new aspects of the invention that Apple wanted to protect such as a new "touch sensor that bends about the bend axis and a pixel array in the housing, wherein the pixel array is operable in a folded configuration and an unfolded configuration. You could review more of Apple added patent claims here.
To view more foldable phone inventions from Apple, check out our archive here.