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Bendable iPhones? How about bendable Macs, as well?

There’s been talk of bendable or flexible iPhones and iPads. How about bendable Mac laptops? Apple has filed for a patent (number 10,642,318) that hints a a variety of flexible products.

Imagine a MacBook Pro with a screen that measured 13-inches when you’re, for example, on an airplane. Get to your hotel room, however, and you can unfold it to 17 inches or bigger.

As far back as 2006, flexible television screens were demoed that could theoretically result in people folding up their computer and putting it in their pocket. 

Fabricating a display that can fold completely in half would offer a large screen in a small, portable form; however, so far the challenge has been to eliminate the visible crease between panels. However, a seamless foldable active matrix organic-light-emitting-diode (AMOLED) display with no visible areas was demoed four years ago by the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology.

The display consists of two AMOLED panels, silicone rubber (a hyperelastic material), a protective glass cover, and a module case. The display has a very small folding radius of just 1 mm, so that one panel lies almost completely on top of the other when the display is folded at a 180 degree angle. Also, the glass cover not only prevents scratches, but can serve as a touch screen, as well. 

Apple’s idea seems to be for a Mac, iPad, or iPhone made in a single plane with a bendable portion. The display would also be flexible.

The researchers reportedly tested the foldable display’s mechanical and optical robustness by performing 100,000 folding-unfolding cycles, and found that the relative brightness at the junction decreased by just six percent. Since this difference is hardly recognizable by the human eye, the deterioration is considered negligible. As the researchers explained, the key to making a display 

with no visible crease involved controlling the optical properties of the materials. Here’s the (rather technical) summary of the patent filing: “A personal computing device comprises a single piece body having a seamless overall appearance and that includes a bendable portion that is capable of having a smoothly curved shape. The single piece body includes a first part capable of carrying a display suitable for presenting visual content, and a second part that is capable of carrying an input device suitable for accepting an input action. 

“The personal computing device also includes a multi-state bending assembly carried by the single piece body at the bendable portion and positioned between and in mechanical communication with the first part and the second part. The multi-state bending assembly includes a planar assembly that, in a first state, is characterized as having a first thickness and allows relative movement of the first and second parts with respect to each other. In a second state, the planar assembly is characterized as having a second thickness, less than the first thickness, that is capable of maintaining a fixed angular displacement between the first and second parts.”

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.