Apple continues to work on an iPhone with an Expandable Display, Eye-Tracking and AirPods Pro with Force Touch
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a series of Apple's continuation patents covering a possible future iPhone with an expandable display; eye-gaze tracking for a mixed reality headset; and AirPods with Force Touch. The main focus of this report is a continuation patent from Apple that relates to a possible future iPhone or iPad that could provide users with an expandable display on demand. An iPhone display could be expanded, for example, from an original size to an expanded size if the user so decided to watch a movie or YouTube video so as to better enjoy the content.
If you've never seen such a concept before, then view the OPPO X 2021 promo video below which shows the frame of the smartphone expanding and supported by an internal scrolling display mechanism.
A future iPhone frame will be able to provide a larger viewing area for live 5G TV, sports, games and Apple TV+ like content when appropriate.
Apple's invention covers an electronic device that may have a display mounted in a housing. The housing may have portions that slide relative to each other. When it is desired to place the device in a compact unexpanded state, the housing portions may be slid towards each other. When it is desired to expand the viewable size of the display, the housing portions may be slid away from each other.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 is perspective view of an iPhone that is capable of expanding its display; FIGS. 15 and 16 are perspective views of the illustrative electronic device in unexpanded and expanded configurations; and FIG. 17 is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative electronic device with a sliding display.
Today, the U.S. Patent Office published this continuation patent which confirms that Apple has added 20 new patent claims for this invention so as to better protect specific attributes of such a device against patent trolls and competitors. Below are eight of the twenty patent claims Apple has added to their invention:
Claim 1. An electronic device, comprising: a housing configured to move between an expanded state and an unexpanded state; a first series of elongated members coupled to the housing; a second series of elongated members interdigitated with the first series of elongated members, wherein the second series of elongated members have protrusions that retain the first series of elongated members when the housing moves between the expanded state and the unexpanded state; and a flexible display that is movable between an expanded viewable area configuration when the housing is in the expanded state and an unexpanded viewable area configuration when the housing is in the unexpanded state.
Claim 2. The electronic device defined in claim 1 wherein a first end of the housing moves toward a second end of the housing in a first direction when the housing moves from the expanded state to the unexpanded state and wherein the protrusions extend from the second series of elongated members in a second direction that is different from the first direction
Claim 3. The electronic device defined in claim 2 wherein the second direction is normal to the first direction.
Claim 4. The electronic device defined in claim 1 further comprising: a roller in the housing, wherein the flexible display bends around the roller when the display is in the unexpanded viewable area configuration.
Claim 5. The electronic device defined in claim 4 further comprising: a tensioner coupled between the flexible display and the housing.
Claim 6. The electronic device defined in claim 5 wherein the tensioner comprises a flexible member coupled to the flexible display and an additional roller.
Claim 11. An electronic device, comprising: a flexible display configured to move between a first configuration with an expanded viewable area and a second configuration with an unexpanded viewable area; first and second housing portions configured to slide relative to each other as the flexible display moves between the first and second configurations; a support structure coupled to the first housing portion and overlapped by the flexible display; a first set of nesting members interposed between the first and second housing portions; and a second set of nesting members interposed between the first and second housing portions, wherein the support structure is interposed between the first and second sets of nesting members.
Claim 18. An electronic device, comprising: a flexible display having a first portion and a second portion; and a housing having first and second sets of interdigitated members configured to move between expanded and unexpanded configurations, wherein the first interdigitated members have protrusions and the second interdigitated members have recesses that receive the protrusions, wherein in the expanded configuration the first and second portions face in a first direction and wherein the in the unexpanded configuration the first portion faces the first direction and the second portion faces a second direction that is different from the first direction.
To review the remaining 12 added patent claims, check out Apple's continuation patent 20210315113. The 20 new patent claims are added to Apple's granted patent 11071218 published on January 16, 2020. Considering that this is a continuation patent, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
Other Continuation Patents of interest published today
20210314696: "Force-Activated Earphone" (AirPods Pro); Apple added 20 new patent claims
20210311550: "Postponing the State Change of an Information Affecting the Graphical User Interface Until During the Condition of Inattentiveness." Apple has added 20 new patent claims to this invention which has already been granted twice. The patent covers gaze controls for a future Head Mounted Device that view virtual content.