Apple's first scrollable device invention surfaced back in 2016 in our report titled "Apple Advances their Work on a Future Scrollable-Like Digital Newspaper Device." Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple another patent for a possible future iPhone based on a scrollable, extendable display concept.
If you've never heard of this concept before, then check out the video below that presents a smartphone with a scrollable, extendable display that Chinese smartphone vendor Oppo is promising to launch in Q4 2021.
Apple's granted patent focuses on a scrollable device with a flexible display that wraps around one or more rollers. In a stored position, the flexible display may be wrapped around a storage roller.
Optional deployment rollers may be used to help deploy the display as the display is pulled out of the housing. A flexible display may be viewable through a transparent housing window before and after the flexible display is pulled out of the housing.
An electronic device may have first and second housing portions and a flexible display that can be either stored in one or both housing portions or that may be scrolled out to form a planar display surface that extends between housing portions.
Elongated bistable support members may run along the edges of the display or may be overlapped by a central active area of the display to help stiffen and support the display in its extended position.
Magnets may be used to outwardly bias edge-mounted bistable support structures and thereby help prevent a rolled flexible display from wrinkling.
An electronic device may have both rigid and flexible displays. A rigid display such as a touch screen display may be mounted in the housing and may serve as a virtual keyboard.
A flexible display that is stored on a roller in the housing may be pulled out from the display when it is desired to provide a user with expanded display area. The flexible display may have a first surface with a pixel array that displays images and an opposing second surface that serves as a protective outer covering layer when the flexible display overlaps the touch screen display. The flexible display may be supported at a diagonal angle with respect to the touch screen display or other suitable angle.
Apple's patent FIG. 2 below is a perspective view of a scrollable device having a flexible display extended between two housing structures; FIG. 17 is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative electronic device with a scrolling flexible display deployed using multiple internal rollers.
Apple's patent FIG. 6 above is a top view of device #10 in an illustrative configuration in which the housing for the device has a main portion (housing structure 12-1) and has a smaller portion (housing structure 12-2) that is used as a support bar to help pull flexible display #14 off of a roller within the interior of structures #12-1. Bistable support strips such as tape #32 may be used to help support the flexible display when the flexible display is in its deployed state as shown in FIG. 6.
The device of FIG. 6 and the other FIGS. may include electrical components which could include integrated circuits, sensors, connectors, batteries, audio circuits, speakers, microphones, and other input-output devices and control circuitry.
Apple rarely limits an invention to a single device and this current invention is no exception. Apple notes that the invention could also apply to a future iPad (tablet), Apple Watch (wristwatch), a television, gaming device, navigation device and more.
Apple's second granted patent added 16 new and technical patent claims describing various functional aspects of the device. For instance, Apple noted in patent claims 15 and 16 that "the metal support structures are configured to maintain the flexible display at a vertical angle relative to the housing. The metal support structures are also bistable and are configured to wrap around the roller when the flexible display is in the rolled state."
The sole inventor of Apple's granted patent is noted as being Scott Myers who was with Apple over 11 years as a Senior Manager, iPhone Product Design. He's now working at Snap Inc. For more, review Apple's granted patent 11,044,822.