Just a few days ago, we covered Patently Apple‘s story about under-display Touch ID and Face ID, and today, the same publication gives us news about Apple’s fourth United States Patent and Trademark Office granted patent “relating to an iPhone with and expandable display that scrolls from within.”
Again, first spotted by Patently Apple, the patent is titled “Electronic devices with adjustable display windows,” and was filed today with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. If you’re geeky enough, read below, if you’re dumb like me, in short it explains how the expandable display – that covers the camera area – could move to show or hide the front-facing camera and other components when in use and not in use, respectively.
“An electronic device may have a display with an array of pixels for displaying images. The display may have a window region. During operation, a component such as an optical component may operate through the window region. The window region may overlap a movable portion of the display. The window region may be operated in open and closed states. In the closed state, the movable portion of the display overlaps the window region and pixels in the movable display portion emit light through the window region. In the open state, the movable portion of the display is moved away from the window region so that light for the optical component may pass through the window region. The optical component may be a camera or other component that receives light through the window region or may be an optical component that emits light through the window region.”– Apple’s fourth filed and latest granted patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
In other words, the camera would be usable in an open and closed state. When open, the movable portion of the display is moved away from the window region so that light for the optical component may pass through the window region so you could then use the camera. When closed, the movable portion of the display overlaps the window region and pixels in the movable display portion emit light from the window region. Apple coins an area called the “window region” in the display which could house sensors or depth sensing components for Face ID.
Apple’s patent FIG. 1 below is an iPhone with an expandable display. Apple’s FIG. 9 is a cross-sectional side view of a portion of an illustrative electronic device (e.g., iPhone) having a window with a bendable display region.
Apple’s patent FIG. 13 above illustrates a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative electronic device with a slidable display arranged to cover a display window; FIG. 14 is a cross-sectional side view of the illustrative electronic device of FIG. 13 in which the slidable display has been moved to uncover a window region associated with the display window.
The first of two main mechanical movements described in this patent is a display that is a flap formed either by a flexible display or a separate rigid display layer that moves about a hinge. This flap would be bent away from the rest of the display to open up the window region.
The second embodiment is a flexible display that moves via an electrically adjustable actuator, which would then slide the entire display down to open the window region and show the notch components. The two mechanical movements described above would occur under the glass of the display.
Apple also mentions the display window may possibly have a coating to help it reflect light for the optical components and that it may be transparent to light emitted by pixels when the movable display portion is in a closed state. The patent also explains that the window region could use a mirror in a periscope-like formation to conceal the optical components, similar to the folded camera configurations on some Android phones.
“The display portion may have a coating that reflects light for the optical component when the window is open. The coating may be transparent to light emitted by pixels in the movable display portion when the window is closed. Configurations in which a mirror is aligned with the window or in which the optical component directly receives or emits light through the window without a mirror may also be used.”– Apple’s fourth filed and latest granted patent with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Although we’ve heard reports about Apple exploring a hole-punch display as early as the iPhone 14, these patents should be taken with a grain of @sshair. Apple files many patents each year that never publicly see the light of day. It’s still very interesting, however, to see the areas of research Apple explores to finally get to a notch-less iPhone.
For all the geeky details, check out the full version of Apple’s granted patent 11,079,797.