How cool it would be if your phones folded up on itself, just like your wallet does? Patent number 8,929,085 awarded by U.S Patent and Trademark Office, for “Flexible electronic devices” gives Apple Inc. rights to make portable devices that’ll almost completely be made of flexible components. (via Apple Insider)
Force based gestures, will, therefore be a primary functional feature on the devices- meaning you can squeeze your phone to get it to perform an action. And of course, folding devices equate to larger displays.
First filed in 2011, the patent describes a portable device, like an iPhone, which can bend, flex and fold without negatively impacting batteries, circuit boards, and other electrical components- which will also be pliable, along with the external parts like the chassis and the glass.
So, twists and bends will translate into user commands, device folding will store data and it will absorb impact through localized flexing. Adding to these manipulations, the patent suggests that Apple is planning to include bi-stable mechanics- giving the device two(or more) standard configurations.
Prior documents hint at technology of bendable displays, hidden buttons, among other things, but Apple had never been able to fully integrate them into a single system. The invention itself is proposed to be covered by a flexible OLED display on one side, capacitive touch sensor and substrate glass layers. Some models may have to forego the cover glass to favor internal support structures.
Instead of using milled aluminium, suggestions favor chassis modelled with fibre composites, glass, plastic, or a combination of materials that can withstand long term, constant, without-breaking flexing. Other cases suggest that the housing contain a soft plastic or silicone to fill internal volume around the circuits and the batteries. This will do away with mechanical mounting points and welds, or augmenting both- conventional fasteners with interfacing features for flexible components.
What does the sum of this culminate into? A futuristic device, with existing sensor technology- magnetic, proximity, optical and much more which can be laid throughout the display chassis.
Samsung has already declared that it will be the only manufacturer capable of producing flexible-screen phones during the coming 12 months. Face off? Time will show.