[Photo Credit: Patently Apple]
Patents are marvelous licenses that hold incredible ideas. While there is more to invention than filing patents, it is a legal strategy that prevents companies from losing ideas — or having to pay license fees to other companies for wanted technology. The saying “the early bird gets the worm” is no truer than in the area of invention patents. Steve Jobs learned that, and Apple has been patent-crazy ever since. Cupertino is not alone; as of this week, Samsung has become known for holding the most mobile patents of all known manufacturers.
Apple’s newly-published patent (awarded by the US Patent and Trademark Office, USPTO) calls for a flexible, wraparound display that is made out of flexible material of some kind. In order to achieve a flexible display, Apple’s new patent toys around with the idea of creating a prism-like, 3D shape and form for the iPhone. The flexible iPhone on the patent shows the App Store logo as well as the iTunes logo (music notes), with the calendar, video, and notes logos above and the email, phone, iPod, and text message logos below in the icon dock.
The flexible iPhone patent also explores a number of shapes the iPhone could take; this is to be expected if the iPhone turns out to have the flexibility Apple is aiming for. One of the more unique features of the patent is Apple’s removable end caps, which Apple would allow to be removable in order to expand the size of the iPhone screen. According to Eric Slivk of Macrumors,
“Apple explores a variety of options for such devices, including multiple form factors and the potential use of a second inner display underneath a transparent outer display to provide the illusion of 3D content. Apple also suggests the possibility of interchangeable end caps to fit specific situations” (Eric Slivk, “Apple researching iPhone designs with flexible wraparound displays”).
Other details from other tech sources reveal additional information. Cam Bunton of todaysiphone says that the flexible iPhone will come with the following additional features:
* facial recognition and on-board cameras
* multiple displays inserted on top of the others
* glass frame
* gesture controls replace hold and volume buttons
What can be seen from this flexible iPhone patent is that Apple is looking to explore more uses for its iPhone than just phone talking, movie and video viewing, and music playing. Apple at some point in the near future may be considering a multi-purpose iPhone with numerous capabilities. One iPhone may be responsible for doing all the things your iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad do on a regular basis.
Apple has published a number of patents pertaining to neat features in its products. Cupertino has published patents related to 5D kinetic gaming technology, as well as inductive field charging within the last year. The company has made tweaks to its smartphone over the last six years, but investors and consumers want something more out of their iPhone experiencing — hopefully prompting Apple to make good on some of its published patents and hidden ideas. The flexible display iPhone patent is credited to Scott Meyers and was filed in August 2011.