Apple’s Future iPhones Could Feature Self-Healing Display

KEY POINTS

  • Apple is working on a slew of new technologies for upcoming devices
  • One such technology is a “self-healing” display
  • The technology might be used for future iPhones

A new patent application shows that Apple is hard at work in creating functional and durable flexible displays that will be used for its future devices, such as a foldable iPhone. The technology described in the new filing reveals that the company is working on a display that’s capable of “healing” itself from the damages it might sustain during normal use.

The new patent application, titled “Electronic Devices With Flexible Display Cover Layers,” was recently published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In it, inventors talked about one of the ways that Apple could make a foldable iPhone.

The inventors described a device that has a flexible display comprised of several parts, including two rigid display cover layers that are joined together by a flexible display cover layer in the middle. The flexible part allows the device to be bent in the same way today’s foldable smartphones are folded.

What’s interesting about the patent application is the inventors’ repeated mention of a layer made of material that possesses “self healing” properties. They said this layer “may be formed across the entire display cover layer or may be formed only in the flexible region of the display cover layer.”

Apple self-healing display According to the patent application, FIG. 11 (pictured) is a cross-sectional side view of an illustrative display in which the display cover layer includes a self-healing coating across the display cover layer and a heating layer that heats the self-healing coating in accordance with an embodiment. Photo: Apple/USPTO

The inventors said that the layer can be made of elastomer, which is stretchable and can possess the ability to return to its original

Apple is working on self-healing coatings for future foldables

Apple logo Apple iPhone 11
  • Apple has patented a self-healing coating for a foldable phone.
  • The patent details how the foldable could effectively buff out scratches to its surface without user intervention.

Foldable phones are a boon for those craving tablet-sized displays in smartphone-sized bodies. There is a disadvantage though. As traditional scratch-resistant glass doesn’t bend, display durability has to be sacrificed. Now, it seems that a new patent by Apple could address this problem.

Spotted by Patently Apple, the company’s new foldable designs were filed in January 2020 but surfaced this week. It details a self-healing material — seemingly based on elastomer — that could allow foldable phones’ displays to automatically fill in those inevitable scratches and surface damage.

As detailed in the filing, the self-healing coating could be applied to the foldable’s internal folding display or on the phone’s outer areas. Either way, the self-healing properties remain the same. If damaged, the coating could repair itself without any user intervention. Interestingly, the healing process may also be sped up using heat, light, or electric current.

To ensure the display is adequately flexible, it could also feature slits or grooves in which the self-healing coating can be filled. The patent doesn’t explain if the display itself could also employ a more durable material using this method.

apple foldable self healing display patent 1

While it’s a novel concept for foldables, Apple’s not the first firm to explore self-healing coatings on smartphones. LG launched its wacky G Flex in 2013 and the G Flex 2 in 2015 with self-healing coatings on the back. Motorola also developed heat-activated self-healing coatings, too, although we’ve not seen a phone from the firm sport this technology just yet.

We’ve seen little proof that Apple is actively working on a foldable, but the patent makes it clear the company is exploring ways to mitigate the form

Aurora Labs ramps ‘self-healing’ software with $23M from LG Technology Ventures, Porsche SE, Toyota Tsusho

The automotive market is grappling with increasingly complex software systems, and in turn greater risks of glitches that can cause costly and unsafe disruptions and damage an automaker’s credibility.

Just look at today’s new cars, trucks and SUVs compared to their counterparts a decade ago. New vehicles coming off assembly lines today contain tens of millions of lines of code, a statistic that continues to rise as automakers invest more in software.

This upward trend has created risks for automakers; it’s also opened up opportunity for burgeoning startups like Aurora Labs, which developed a platform that can spot problems with software in cars and fix it on the fly. The company is now preparing to ramp up operations, even beyond automotive, as software takes a central role in shared mobility, cities and homes.

Aurora Labs developed a platform designed to detect and predict problems and then fix any issues in real-time. The platform also enables automakers to update software in vehicles wirelessly — a feature often referred to as over-the-air software updates that was popularized by Tesla. The ability to conduct OTAs allows automakers to make changes quickly and without requiring owners to visit a dealership for service.

Earlier this month, the Tel Aviv-based startup raised $23 million in a Series B round jointly led by LG Group’s investment arm LG Technology Ventures and Marius Nacht, co-founder of Check Point Software Technologies. Porsche SE, majority owner of the VW group, Toyota Tsusho, a member of Toyota Group and the venture arm of global safety certification company UL also participated. Porsche SE invested $2.5 million and Toyota Tsusho put $1.5 million into Aurora Labs, according to the companies.

The funds will be used to double the size of Aurora Labs’ 30-person team to support going into series production with two of