- By Hectoro Gonzalez
iPhone has registered a ground breaking new bezelless screen design, full of holes
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The patent filed by Apple for “Electronic devices having displays with openings” describes a method by which various components can be mounted behind micro perforations in a device screen that are so small as to be imperceptible to the human eye. This arrangement would allow engineers to design a smartphone or tablet with a true edge-to-edge, or full-face display that could hide microphones, cameras and speakers and finger print recognition zones behind the screen. By using thin films it would also be possible to retain the waterproof features found on the latest iPhone 7.
Until now, smartphone aesthetics have been both defined and limited by their most dominant feature, their display. Conventional tablet designs made popular by the original iPhone and pre-iPhone, sector leading Prada phone put the screen front and centre, with supporting hardware arranged along its periphery.
Now however Apple want to try and push the boundaries of what the norm is. The idea of maximising space by placing key functions and controls behind the light emitting active screen areas would totally revolutionise the way in which we interact with technology.
Apple in its patent suggests mounting sensors and other equipment behind a series of openings, or through-holes, in the active portion of an OLED or similar panel. These openings might be left empty or, if desired, filled with glass, polymers, radio-transparent ceramic or other suitable material creating a waterproof film protecting the much loved waterproof feature of the iPhone 7.
There has been much talk of second screen and transparent windows that creat front to back windows which users can see through as if the devices have large viewing holes going all the way through like an iPhone doughnut. Interestingly, Apple notes the patented technology might power a built-in heads-up display system. In some embodiment, windows are created by providing one or more transparent regions in the front and rear of the device. When a user looks through these windows, formed from a glass panel on the rear and the main transparent OLED display, they would see digital images overlaid atop real-world objects.
Alternatively rear facing cameras may be involved. For example, a rear-facing camera might gather scene information, which is then processed using local or cloud-based computer vision algorithms, similar to those employed by the iPhone 7 Plus ‘Portrait’ camera mode. A digital image containing useful information about a user’s surroundings might then be projected in alignment with real world objects onto the sub-display window.
Whether Apple plans to implement the advanced display technology into a future iPhone is unclear, though the company is rumoured to launch a special edition version of the smartphone with full-face display later this year. As for the HUD portion of Apple’s patent, the company is said to be mulling an entry into AR within the next one to two years, with initial solutions potentially integrated into an iPhone.
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