Apple Patents Tech That Could Solve The Biggest Issue With Current Foldable Devices

Apple today has been granted a patent for technology that could potentially be used to circumvent the issue of foldable displays creasing and cracking at the fold over time – a problem that has plagued many consumer foldable devices that have made it to market thus far.


Published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office under the heading "System with multiple electronic devices," the patent describes a technology that allows two or more devices to act as one when brought close to each other through the use of proximity sensors.

The patent envisions separate devices automatically detecting when they're placed together contiguously and then sharing a common display image across them.
"Multiple electronic devices may be used together in a system," continues the patent. "The electronic devices may use sensor measurements and other information to detect when an edge of a first electronic device is adjacent to an edge of a second electronic device."
As AppleInsider notes, the wording of the patent leaves open the possibility that the tech could be used to create a single bendable device comprised of two displays in seamless communication with each other, similar to Microsoft's upcoming Surface Duo.
"Magnetic components may hold devices together in a variety of orientations. The magnetic components may operate in cooperation with beveled housing edges and other structures to help hold devices in planar configurations in which the devices lie in a common plane and non-planar configurations in which the devices are oriented at a non-zero angle with respect to each other."
Foldable smartphones are undoubtedly the latest device trend, and while there are no rumors suggesting Apple has plans to release a foldable smartphone anytime soon, the company is clearly exploring their potential.

Apple has been known to be working on foldable display technology for years with patents on the implementation of similar technology. Of course, whether this research and development results in a foldable consumer product remains to be seen.
This article, "Apple Patents Tech That Could Solve The Biggest Issue With Current Foldable Devices" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Patents Foldable Device With Movable Flaps to Prevent Display From Creasing

Apple this week has been granted a patent for a foldable device with a unique hinge mechanism that utilizes movable flaps to help prevent the display from being creased or damaged when folded.


Published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today, the patent explains that the hinge mechanism would ensure adequate separation between the first and second portions of the display. When the device is unfolded, movable flaps would extend to cover the gap, and then retract when the device is folded.

Early foldable smartphones like Samsung's Galaxy Fold and Huawei's Mate X have noticeable creases along the bending portion of the display. Motorola's new foldable Razr avoids this issue with a unique hinge design, but early reviews indicate the device makes creaking sounds when opened or closed.


All in all, it is still early days for foldable smartphones, with lots of room for innovation. Apple has certainly shown an interest in the category with several patents for foldable devices and mechanisms over the past few years, but it remains to be seen if the company ever releases a foldable iPhone or iPad.


This article, "Apple Patents Foldable Device With Movable Flaps to Prevent Display From Creasing" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Patent Imagines iMac Made From a Single Sheet of Glass

Apple has all kinds of fanciful patents for imaginative devices that will likely never come to fruition, such as an iMac-like desktop computer made entirely glass, which was shared last week in a patent published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Apple's patent describes an electronic device with an upper portion that serves as a display area, a lower portion that serves as an input area, and a transitional section that connects the two halves for a "continuous curved surface between the upper portion and the lower portion."


The lower section of the device rests on the desktop and is used for holding input devices, while the larger flat area serves as the display, with a stand at the back for propping it up and holding it in place. Given the thinness of the all-glass curved design of the Mac, the stand that holds it in place would be able to house necessary components and would also be able to be positioned differently to adjust the angle of the display.


The glass between the two sections of the device is described as flexible and able to change in angle between the display area and the input area. The input area is said to extend along a portion of the display area to form a "touchscreen-style display," and functionality such as wireless charging for other devices or data transfer capabilities could be included.


Apple separately describes multiple embodiments of the design, including one with a detachable, removable keyboard that fits over the lower portion of the glass design, which, when in place, allows the glass to detect the keystrokes.

An electronic device comprising: a slumped glass housing member defining: a continuous exterior surface of the electronic device; and an opening extending through the slumped glass housing member; a support structure coupled to the slumped glass housing member and configured to support the slumped glass housing member; a display coupled to an upper portion of the slumped glass housing member; and a keyboard having: a storage configuration in which the keyboard is positioned at least partially within the opening; and a use configuration in which the keyboard is extended from the opening.
This portion of the patent also highlights a camera that could be built into the glass of the enclosure, using an "optically transmissive material." Apple says that the design outlined in the patent could be made of glass, but the housing could also feature plastic or ceramic, as long as the material is light-transmissive.

The material for the design could have special features like scratch resistance, wireless charging support, or it could be able to allow touch and force to be detected through it. Apple also says biometric sensing capabilities could be included, detecting everything from fingerprints to heart rate, blood oxygenation levels, and temperature.

Because the patent describes both an "electronic device" and a "desktop computer," it suggests that this same design could be used for Macs or potentially an iOS device like an iPad. The patent goes into great detail about possible designs and functions, and further reading is available in the application on the US Patent and Trademark Office website.

Apple hasn't redesigned the iMac in some time, and although the patent appears to describe an iMac-like desktop computer, this probably isn't the implementation that we're going to see when Apple ultimately debuts a new ‌iMac‌ enclosure. Apple patents all manner of devices that never make it to production, but with curved glass and foldable devices becoming more popular, there is a possibility that we could see some of the functionality described in this patent at some point in the future.

Tag: patent

This article, "Apple Patent Imagines iMac Made From a Single Sheet of Glass" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Patent Describes Apple Watch Feature for Improving Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms

A newly unearthed patent reveals that Apple is exploring how a future Apple Watch could help doctors monitor the symptoms of Parkinson's patients.


Spotted by AppleInsider, "Passive Tracking of Dyskinesia/Tremor Symptoms" describes the use of special sensors in a proposed ‌Apple Watch‌ medical feature and the reasoning behind it.
"There are an estimated 600,000 to 1 million cases of Parkinson's Disease in the United States and 60,000 new cases are diagnosed each year," reads the filing, which goes on to describe the symptoms sufferers have to live with. "Symptoms of PD include... tremor and dyskinesia. Dyskinesia is an uncontrollable and involuntary movement that can resemble twitching, fidgeting, swaying or bobbing."
The patent states that dyskinesia and tremors can occur when all of the other features of Parkinson's Disease are being managed through medication. Unfortunately, the dopamine replacement therapy can also cause more pronounced side effects, and doctors have to rely on in-clinic tests and patient reports to regulate their treatment effectively.
"A patient's quality of life is largely dependent on how precisely clinicians titrate and schedule the patient's medications to minimize the patient's symptoms. This is a challenge for clinicians because each patient has a different combination of symptoms that can change and become more severe over time. Also, in any given day the symptoms may fluctuate based on medications, food intake, sleep, stress, exercise, etc."
The feature uses motion sensors to monitor the wearer's movement and the data gathered is analyzed on the device using the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS). According to Apple, this allows the data to be collected more reliably and means the sufferer doesn't need to keep close track of their symptoms and can better plan activities around symptom patterns.

The image above shows a patient wearing an ‌Apple Watch‌, but the patient doesn't specify that the feature would be limited to a wrist-based device, suggesting it could make its way into an iPhone, or perhaps even an electronic finger ring.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 6
Tags: patent, health
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Buy Now)

This article, "Patent Describes Apple Watch Feature for Improving Treatment of Parkinson's Disease Symptoms" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Watch Bands With Self-Tightening, Skin Texture Authentication, and LED Progress Bar Detailed in Patents

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today granted Apple several patents for smart Apple Watch bands with features such as biometric authentication, self-tightening, and an LED progress indicator, as noted by Patently Apple.

Apple Watch with biometric sensor

The first patent describes an Apple Watch band with a sensor that can authenticate the wearer based on patterns in their wrist's skin texture:
More particularly, skin texture cracks are generally warmer than the surrounding skin, and hair is cooler than the surrounding skin. By using an IR thermal image sensor as the wrist biometric sensor, hair can be distinguished, thermally, from skin texture cracks by temperature.
This feature would eliminate the need to enter a passcode on the Apple Watch or a paired iPhone to unlock the watch.

The second patent describes a self-tightening Apple Watch band. If the wearer is running or working out, for example, the band could automatically tighten in order to ensure it has a snug fit on the wrist while exercising. Upon completion of the physical activity, the band would then automatically loosen.

Apple Watch users would be able to set locations where the band automatically tightens upon arrival, such as a gym.

In other examples, the band could automatically tighten to notify a user of an upcoming turn while walking, driving, or swimming; to help the wearer count repetitions while weight lifting; or to notify the wearer that they have reached certain distance intervals while running, such as every mile.

A self-tightening Apple Watch band

The self-tightening band could also be part of a two-factor authentication system on the Apple Watch, as described in the patent:
For example, if a user wishes to access financial details hosted on a banking website, the banking website may require both the user's credentials and a verification of a number of tightening-loosening patterns sent to a wearable electronic device previously authenticated by the banking website…

In one example, a tactile pattern may be a series of five squeezes of the user's wrist (e.g., tighten and loosen in sequence). The user may thereafter enter "5" to gain access to the banking website.
The third patent describes an Apple Watch band with an LED indicator that would visualize the progress of an activity or task, such as completion of Walk, Stand, and Exercise rings. The indicator could also serve as an easy way to check an Apple Watch's remaining battery life at a glance.

Apple Watch bands with various LED indicators

Apple is hosting a special event at Steve Jobs Theater next Tuesday, where it is widely expected to unveil new iPhone and Apple Watch models. While a seasonal band refresh is expected, there have been no rumors or leaks about smart bands.

Keep in mind that Apple is granted dozens of patents every week, and many of the inventions do not see the light of day. Patents are also very detailed, encompassing many possible ideas, even ones that Apple might not have any plans to advance. So, whether any of these bands come to fruition remains to be seen.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 5, watchOS 6
Tag: patent
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)

This article, "Apple Watch Bands With Self-Tightening, Skin Texture Authentication, and LED Progress Bar Detailed in Patents" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Has Explored Adding Positionable Cameras to Apple Watch Bands

Apple has explored the idea of adding a camera to the Apple Watch, although not in the way one might expect.

MacRumors mockup of Apple Watch with camera band

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today granted Apple a patent that describes an Apple Watch band with a camera or optical sensor affixed to the end of it. This would enable the Apple Watch to capture photos and video, with the Apple Watch's display serving as the viewfinder.

The band would be made with flexible materials, like many current bands, allowing the user to bend or twist it to aim the camera. Apple's patent includes various illustrations of how the band and camera could be positioned, including one where the camera hovers just above the Apple Watch's display.


A camera on the Apple Watch could enable basic photo capturing and FaceTime calls on the wrist. The patent also describes the possibility of multiple optical sensors, suggesting that a future Apple Watch band could have both front and rear cameras, allowing users to switch between views like on the iPhone.

Apple filed the patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on September 16, 2016, a week after it unveiled Apple Watch Series 2 models. While both Series 3 and Series 4 models have launched without camera bands since then, Apple could certainly move forward with the idea in future models.

Apple files numerous patent applications every week, however, and many of the inventions do not see the light of day. Patents are also very detailed, encompassing many possible ideas, even ones that Apple might not have any plans to advance. So, the exact implementation if any remains to be seen.

Over the years, rumors have come and gone about the Apple Watch gaining a front-facing camera in the bezel above its display, but this has never come to fruition, perhaps because of the limited internal space available inside the device. A camera watch band is just one potential solution to that problem.

Related Roundups: Apple Watch, watchOS 5, watchOS 6
Tag: patent
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)

This article, "Apple Has Explored Adding Positionable Cameras to Apple Watch Bands" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

First U.S. Jury Trial Begins Today in Apple-Qualcomm Legal Battle

In July 2017, Qualcomm filed suit against Apple in San Diego federal court, accusing the iPhone maker of infringing on six U.S. patents related to graphics processing architecture, power consumption, and envelope tracking technologies. Nearly two years later, the case is finally headed to trial.


The trial begins today with jury selection, with proceedings expected to take up to two weeks. It will be the first time a U.S. jury is involved in the major legal battle between the two companies, according to Bloomberg.

The legal battle between Apple and Qualcomm spans multiple countries. The dispute began in January 2017 when Apple sued Qualcomm for an alleged $1 billion in unpaid royalty rebates, just days after an FTC complaint alleged that Qualcomm engaged in anticompetitive patent licensing practices.

Qualcomm has countersued, alleging that its "innovations are at the heart of every iPhone" and "enable the most important uses and features of those devices," adding that it "simply is untrue that Qualcomm is seeking to collect royalties for Apple innovations that have nothing to do with Qualcomm's technology."

Last week, analysts at investment bank Barclays said that Qualcomm is seemingly "running out" of time to reach a settlement with Apple if it wants to win 5G modems orders for the first 5G-enabled iPhones, expected in 2020.


This article, "First U.S. Jury Trial Begins Today in Apple-Qualcomm Legal Battle" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Foldable iPhones Could Have Self-Heating Displays to Avoid Damage in Cold Weather

The foldable smartphone era is fully upon us with the recent introductions of the Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X, and while it remains unclear if Apple will follow suit, the company has at least explored ideas related to foldable smartphones in patent applications over the past few years.

Huawei Mate X

In a patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today, titled "Electronic Devices With Flexible Displays," Apple explains that foldable smartphone displays could be prone to damage when bent in cold temperatures, and describes various heating methods to mitigate the issue.

For example, Apple says the portion of the display that bends could be heated by lighting up the pixels in that area of the screen. Alternatively, a "heating element or other heating structure" could be used, although Apple wasn't specific.

Apple's illustration of a folding device, along with an expanded view showing the bendable area of the display being heated

The patent application, highlighted by AppleInsider, notes that the foldable smartphone could have a magnetic latching mechanism that would prevent the device from being folded or unfolded in very cold temperatures to avoid damage to the display. This would be in environments "significantly below room temperature."

Apple files numerous patent applications every week, of course, and many of the inventions do not see the light of day. Patents are also very detailed, encompassing many possible ideas, even ones that Apple might not have any plans to advance. So, the exact implementation if any remains to be seen.

While unique, early foldable smartphones from Samsung and Huawei are far from perfect, with bulky designs and expensive price tags. Apple is unlikely to release a foldable iPhone unless it can meet the company's strict quality standards.

Last year, Bank of America analyst Wamsi Mohan predicted that Apple is working on a foldable iPhone for release in 2020, while an earlier Korean report said Apple was developing a foldable iPhone alongside LG. However, it's still not entirely clear if Apple will ever proceed with those plans.


This article, "Foldable iPhones Could Have Self-Heating Displays to Avoid Damage in Cold Weather" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Faces Yet Another Patent Lawsuit in East Texas Over LTE Standards

Last week, we reported on Apple's plans to close its retail stores in the Eastern District of Texas in April in an effort to avoid patent infringement lawsuits in the jurisdiction, perceived by many as being "patent troll friendly."


Ahead of the closures, Apple faces yet more patent litigation in the district. A group of limited liability companies under the Optis Wireless Technology, LLC umbrella filed suit against Apple on Monday in East Texas, accusing the company of infringing on a portfolio of seven patents related to LTE standards.

Optis Wireless and the other plaintiffs named in the complaint appear to be non-practicing entities that aim to generate revenue through patent litigation. These type of companies are commonly referred to as patent trolls.

The complaint, seen by MacRumors, alleges that all LTE-enabled Apple products, including various iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch models, infringe on the LTE patents. Optis Wireless and the other plaintiffs acquired many of the patents from Ericsson, Samsung, LG, and Panasonic — read the full complaint [PDF] for the exact patents.

The plaintiffs state that, not later than January 6, 2017, they sent Apple correspondence in an effort to license their essential patents to Apple on FRAND terms. The plaintiffs also allege meeting with Apple representatives on numerous occasions, but the parties did not reach a licensing agreement.

The plaintiffs are seeking "recovery of damages at least in the form of reasonable royalties" and have demanded a jury trial.

Last August, in the same court, a jury decided that Huawei willfully infringed many of the same LTE patents being asserted against Apple. The Chinese smartphone maker was ordered to pay $10.6 million in damages.


This article, "Apple Faces Yet Another Patent Lawsuit in East Texas Over LTE Standards" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums

Apple Outlines How Augmented Reality Glasses Could Overlay Points of Interest

Multiple reports suggest that Apple is developing an augmented reality headset or glasses that could be released by 2020 or 2021, and a newly granted Apple patent may provide some broad clues about potential features.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday granted Apple a patent describing a "method for representing points of interest in a view of a real environment on a mobile device," and while there is no specific mention of so-called Apple Glasses, the patent describes a "head-mounted display."


As with many other augmented reality devices, the head-mounted display would be able to overlay computer-generated virtual information onto a view of the real environment. More specifically, the headset would have a camera that is able to identify and annotate points of interest and other objects.

One illustration in the patent shows a head-mounted display showing buildings, each identified with an overlaying label. On a paired iPhone, a user would be able to tap on the point of interest to view additional information.


While the head-mounted display looks like a pair of snowboarding goggles, patent illustrations are merely examples.

Apple files numerous patent applications every week, of course, and many of the inventions do not see the light of day. Patents are also very detailed, encompassing many possible ideas, even ones that Apple might not have any plans to advance. So, the exact implementation if any remains to be seen.

At this point, it's not entirely clear if Apple is working on Google Glasses-like glasses or a HoloLens-like headset. Apple CEO Tim Cook has expressed more of an interest in augmented reality than virtual reality, however, and the patent does suggest that Apple is focused on augmenting the real world.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has previously reported that Apple's headset will use a custom iOS-based operating system dubbed "rOS" for now. He also said the headset would wirelessly connect to an iPhone.

Apple has acquired multiple augmented reality startups including Metaio in 2015, Vrvana in 2017 and Akonia Holographics last year, and has hired away employees from HoloLens and similar companies, as it continues to work on the project. In fact, the inventors listed on this patent are former Metaio employees.

AppleInsider was first to report on the patent being granted today. Apple applied for the patent back in 2017.

Related Roundup: Apple Glasses
Tag: patent

This article, "Apple Outlines How Augmented Reality Glasses Could Overlay Points of Interest" first appeared on MacRumors.com

Discuss this article in our forums