Apple patents futuristic phones that can 'bend'

The last time we heard about an iPhone bending, it was a result of something seriously faulty that Apple was embarrassed about and tried hard to rectify. But it now appears that Apple might be actually working on bending its device and has just been awarded a patent that would enable it to do so.


A patent that was awarded to Apple by the US Patent and Trademark Office last week describes how a future device could be simply folded and placed in your pocket or even wrapped around your wrist.

The device may include a flexible display, a flexible housing and one or more flexible internal components such as batteries, printed circuits or other components.

Soon after the release of its latest iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, in what became known as ‘bendgate’, reports emerged that the larger phablet sized devices were in fact prone to bending over a period of time, especially when placed in a pant pocket.



Such a device, the applicant notes, will comprise of flexible layers such as a flexible and touch sensitive display layer (OLED). “These flexible layers may, if desired, be covered by a flexible cover layer (e.g., a flexible plastic or flexible thin glass layer) or may be supported by a flexible support structure (e.g., a flexible support structure on the underside of the flexible layers),” the patent document notes.

Cover layers, it says may be provided with openings that provide access to the flexible layers of the display. “For example, a cover layer may have an opening that allows a button member to move relative to the cover glass layer. As the button member moves within the opening, underlying portions of the flexible display may be deformed (e.g., to allow actuation of an associated switch).”

Similarly, electronic devices may also be provided with components such as buttons, microphones, speakers, piezoelectric actuators or other actuators such as vibrators, pressure sensors, and other components and mounted under portions of a flexible display.

The patent application includes 27 figures that describe how such a device can be fully flexible, twisted and even folded to make it smaller, and less prone to damage.

Last month, another patent was awarded to Apple that described a device from breaking up in the eventuality of a fall.

Unbreakable iPhone: New mechanism to prevent cracking

The earlier patent clearly describes a system that re-orients the device during a fall, and how components can be ejected out of the device during a fall to a new gripping mechanism wherein the attached power chord or an ear phone might be employed to save the device from hitting the ground.

What’s interesting in the new patent award is that it does not simply speak about bending the screen, but rather altering the complete structure of the device.


The last drawing of the document (FIG. 27) shows a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative internal configurable support structure that includes a bladder system for changing the shape or flexibility of housing and may include one or more pockets such as cavities that may be temporarily or permanently filled with air, fluid, gas or other material s that may help interchange the device from becoming rigid at time to becoming flexible.

“Filling and emptying cavities may therefore alter the physical state of device from flexible to rigid and rigid to flexible respectively,” the description reads.
 

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