Apple has filed a patent application for a self-healing display which it says is for a foldable device with a display which spans the fold. The most obvious application of this would, of course, be for a foldable iPhone.
The idea would solve one of the main problems found in early folding smartphones, such as the one which turned the ill-fated launch of Samsung’s Galaxy Fold into a PR disaster …
When you fold a display onto itself, any dust or other debris that gets trapped is likely to damage the screen. It’s this problem the Apple invention aims to solve.
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 […]
During operation of an electronic device, the display cover layer for the electronic device may be scratched or dented. To improve the aesthetics of the electronic device, it may be desirable for the presence of scratches and dents to be minimized. To help mitigate the number of dents, scratches, or other imperfections in a display cover layer, the display cover layer may include a layer of self-healing material.
The patent application says that the ideal would be for the device to repair itself automatically, without the user needing to do anything – for example, while charging.
Self-healing may occur in the layer of self-healing material without prompting (e.g., when the self-healing coating is dented, the material of the coating may fill the dent even without external intervention). Alternatively, the self-healing may be initiated or expedited by externally applied heat, light, electric current, or other type of external stimulus.
When heat is used as a stimulus for the self-healing process, the display cover layer may include transparent conductors that form a heating layer in the display cover layer. The heating layer may be used to generate heat to stimulate self-healing. The heating layer may be used to generate heat in response to user input, according to a predetermined schedule, or when the electronic device is charging.
Apple has previously proposed using heat to prevent damage occurring in the first place.
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.
While Apple is rarely in any hurry to bring new technology to market, it does seem inevitable that we’ll see a folding iPhone at some point. Many Apple fans have said they’d buy one, among them company co-founder Steve Wozniak.
We’ve seen a number of concept images for a folding iPhone, including the above one from Foldable News.
Via Patently Apple