Today the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a pair of patents that relate to devices (e.g., smartphones, tablet computers, or other devices) having under-display optical transmitters, receivers, and/or sensors. More particularly, it relates to through-display optical transmission or reception through micro-optic elements (e.g., a micro-lens array), and in some cases to through-display optical sensing through micro-optic elements.
Apple's granted patent describes systems, devices, methods, and apparatus in which micro-optic elements (e.g., micro-lenses or gradient-index (GRIN) lenses) are formed on (or abutted to) the back surface of a display stack.
An under-display optical sensor may variously include an optical transmitter, an optical receiver, an optical transceiver, or multiple optical transmitters, optical receivers and/or optical transceivers.
In some cases, multiple optical sensors may be provided under a device's display, and may be used to perform the same or different functions. An under-display optical sensor may be used, for example, as a proximity sensor (or ranging sensor), an ambient light sensor, a fingerprint sensor, a camera (2D or 3D), a wireless communicator or controller, a time-of-flight (ToF) sensor (e.g., a short pulse optical source and a single-photon avalanche-diode (SPAD) detector or SPAD array), and so on.
One or more optical transmitters, without corresponding optical receives, may also be positioned under a display (e.g., for providing flood illumination, a flashlight, or an optical pointer (e.g., an infrared (IR) pointer)). In some embodiments, an optical transmitter and/or receiver may be provided under a display, and an optical transmitter and/or receiver may be provided adjacent the display.
Apple's patent FIGS. 1A & 1B below show an example embodiment of a device having a display. In some embodiments, one or more micro-optic elements may be formed on (or abutted to) a back surface #122 of the display stack, under the display #104.
As shown primarily in FIG. 1A, the iPhone (device #100) may include various other components. In some cases, a front-facing camera (#110), alone or in combination with other sensors, may be configured to operate as a bio-authentication or facial recognition sensor.
Apple's patent FIG. 10 above illustrates an example embodiment of a display stack and optical module, in relation to near-field and far-field conjugated focal planes; FIG. 12 shows an example plan view of a set of emitters included in an under-display optical modulate, in relation to an array of micro-optic elements.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent 11,067,884.
Apple was granted a second patent today on the same subject matter titled "Electronic device with display apertures." Apple states that "the display may have an array of apertures that allow light to pass to a light-sensitive fingerprint sensor under the display."
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For more details on Apple's second granted patent 11,068,089 click here.