It seems that folding phones are going to be the next big thing in an industry that has struggled for new ideas of late, with the likes of Samsung and Huawei already sharing their own foldable Android handsets. Neither are available just yet, but they’re considerably closer to arrival than a foldable iPhone, although a new patent application appears to show how Apple might be trying to fix a problem other manufacturers may be having.
Apple’s patent focuses on finding a way to prevent a screen from being damaged after many foldings, something that the patent itself suggests is a bigger issue when the display is cold and less flexible. The patent suggests that heating the area of the screen that bends may be the way forward.
Folding iPhone X concept by Foldable News
Electronic devices often include displays for presenting images to a user. Displays are typically formed from rigid planar substrates. Although satisfactory in many situations, rigid displays such as these may be difficult to integrate into certain devices, such as devices with bendable housings.
An electronic device may have a hinge that allows the device to be flexed about a bend axis. A display may span the bend axis. To facilitate bending about the bend axis without damage when the display is cold, a portion of the display that overlaps the bend axis may be selectively heated.
A temperature sensor in the device may make temperature measurements on the portion of the display overlapping the bend axis. The device may also have user input devices for gathering user input and a motion sensor for determining when the device has been picked up for use.
The idea of adding heat to a phone that already has a battery inside isn’t necessarily something that most people would be keen on, but the patent suggests a couple of different ways the heating could take place. Neither sounds likely to cause any battery explosions.
The portion of the display that overlaps the bend axis may be self-heated by illuminating pixels in the portion of the display that overlap the bend axis or may be heated using a heating element or other heating structure that provides heat to the portion of the display overlapping the bend axis.
As we say every time a new patent is found, none of this means anything new is necessarily going to be announced. Apple patents anything and everything its engineers think of, so don’t get your hopes up just yet. Still, it’s clear that Apple has at least been considering a foldable device, as well as finding ways to combat any potential issues. That has to be a good thing moving forward.
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