Future Mac & iDevice Displays may include 'Peripheral Display Regions' that could display illuminated icons, flashing notifications & more
At a time when consumers are expecting thinner bezels on MacBooks and iPads, at least one R&D team at Apple is taking a contrarian position. Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple titled "Electronic Devices Having Peripheral Display Regions." Future Mac and iDevice displays may include peripheral display regions that could present illuminated icons, logos, alphanumeric text, flashing notifications and more.
Apple notes that it may be difficult to efficiently use displays to present certain visual information to a user. Their solution involves having a peripheral display that has an array of pixels that form an active area of the display in which an image is displayed.
A transparent display cover layer may overlap the array of pixels to protect the pixels from damage. Laser marking techniques or other processing techniques may be used to create light-scattering structures within the display cover layer.
A laser-marked light-scattering structure associated with a visual element such as an icon or other visual element may be embedded within an interior portion of the display cover layer between the inner and outer surfaces.
For example, a hazy area may be formed along a border region of the display cover layer that runs along the outer peripheral edge of the active area. During operation, the pixels display an image on the display in the active area. When desired to produce visual output using the border region, a light-emitting device may illuminate the light-scattering structures in the border region. The light-emitting device can be operated independently from the pixels in the active area that are displaying the image.
The light-scattering structures in the border region may be patterned to form text (e.g. alphanumeric characters such as number and/or letters), symbols, graphics (e.g., an icon), abstract elements, or any other suitable visual elements.
By placing the light-scattering structures in the border region, the visual elements associated with the light-scattering structures do not overlap the pixels in the active area. This allows the visual elements to be displayed at the same time as an image in the active area or to be displayed separately (e.g., when the image is not present because the pixels in the active area are all off).
Although Apple's patent figures only present a single full device being an Apple Watch, the fact is that the patent states that it could apply to future iPhones, iPads, the iMac and Mac monitors. The benefit of the invention would be better executed on devices other than an Apple Watch.
Apple's patent FIGS. 6, 7, and 8 below are plan views of portions of illustrative electronic devices in accordance with embodiments.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 above illustrates a top view of an Apple Watch.
Technically speaking, one application for a peripheral display could be used to reinvent the long-standing app Dock.
For finer details, review Apple's patent application number 20210018799. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.