Apple Wins Patent for Foldable Device Display With ‘Self-Healing’ Layer: How It Works

Apple Wins Patent for Foldable Device Display With ‘Self-Healing’ Layer: How It Works


Apple has been granted a patent for a new display technology that uses a self-healing layer to repair damage to the display, without any user interaction. The patent, titled “Electronic Devices with Flexible Screen Cover Layers,” describes the company's concept for a foldable screen that can mitigate the effect of dents and scratches on the screen. It is currently unclear whether Apple plans to introduce the flexible display layer in a future product, such as a foldable phone.

Apple's next foldable display may include a self-healing layer

According to details shared in US patent 11991901 (via Patently Apple ) that was granted to Apple on Tuesday, the company has described an electronic device that is equipped with a hinge, which allows it to be bent, that looks similar to foldable smartphones in existence today. Like other foldable phones, the patent suggests that this device would also need a screen cover layer with a flexible part, in addition to more rigid sections.

While the technology described by Apple so far may be familiar to tech enthusiasts who have used a foldable phone, the patent also describes the use of “a layer with self-healing properties” that covers part or all of the folding screen. Apple mentions that the screen could be used to reduce damage from scratches or dents that are inevitable while using a foldable device.

Apple's Self-Healing Screen Layer: How It Works

Apple says that the flexible part of the alleged screen could be equipped with a layer of elastomer that could improve the ability to bend the component. The company's patent contains diagrams showing the use of a self-healing layer that sits on top of the flexible elastomer component.

Apple's self-healing layer (64) is on top of the folding part of this figure
Photo credit: USPTO/Apple

While the patent document shows that the self-healing process involves the coating material filling the scratch or dent without external intervention, Apple also describes methods to manually initiate self-healing on the screen: “heat, light, electric current or applied externally”. another kind of external stimulus.”

The design of the self-healing screen is shown in several figures in the patent document. The layer is denoted by the number 64 and is shown to cover the entire screen or only the flexible part of the screen.

In order to provide the “stimulus” for the screen's healing process, the company describes using transparent conductors to form a heating layer. This layer could be activated when the device is charging, or manually activated by the user, according to Apple's patent document.

Although Apple has been granted the patent for this technology, there is no telling when, or if, the company might introduce this display in future devices. A newly leaked roadmap of the company's products suggests that Apple is working on a fourth-generation iPhone SE, a foldable phone and AR glasses.

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