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Apple Wins Patent for Foldable Device Display With a ‘Self-Healing’ Layer

Apple Wins Patent for Foldable Device Display With a ‘Self-Healing’ Layer
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Apple has been granted a patent for a new display technology that uses a self-healing layer to rectify damage to the screen — without any interaction from the user. The patent, titled ‘Electronic Devices with Flexible Display Cover Layers’ describes the company’s concept for a foldable display that can mitigate the effect of dents and scratches on the screen. It’s currently unclear whether Apple plans to introduce the flexible display layer on a future product, such as a foldable phone.

Apple’s Next Foldable Display May Feature 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, allowing it to be bent — this sounds similar to existing foldable smartphones today. Like other folding phones, the patent suggests that such a device would also need a display cover layer with a flexible portion, in addition to more rigid sections.

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

Apple’s Self-Healing Display Layer: How it Works

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

apple self healing display patent 11991901 uspto apple patent

Apple’s self-healing layer (64) is located on top of the foldable portion in this figure
Photo Credit: USPTO/ Apple

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

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

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

While Apple has been granted the patent for this technology, there’s no telling when — or if — the company could introduce such a display on future devices. A recently 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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