Whilst some patents emerge years after the real products using them have been launched, some interesting ones are just collecting virtual dust until their time comes – if not in the form of a real-world application, then at least a sight for the sore curious eyes once US Patent & Trademark Office reveals them. What we have here is the freshly published and one of the most exciting (Apple) patents recently, as it reveals the iPhone in a completely new form.

Is this a future iPhone?

Is this a future iPhone?

Patent describes "a consumer electronic product includes at least a transparent housing and a flexible display assembly enclosed within the transparent housing. In the described embodiment, the flexible display assembly is configured to present visual content at any portion of the transparent housing," but even with the comprehensiveness it provided outside of the abstract, it does not describe a full device ? just a few parts.

Flexible AMOLED display hides the conventional PCB (Printed Circuit Board) that houses all the electronics

Flexible AMOLED display hides the conventional PCB (Printed Circuit Board) that houses all the electronics

Flexible wraparound display is one of those parts ? and it is by far the biggest deal here. One of the designs (there are few form factors pictured) described in a patent actually shows how an adapted version of the iOS would look like on it, having five icons per row and using virtual volume keys on the side of the device (on similar positions as is the case with hardware buttons of current devices). These virtual controls would not only replace physical keys ? they would greatly heighten the functionality level and be completely configurable. Of course, given that the whole device is basically a touch sensitive surface, whole range of detection features (position of fingers, facial recognition via embedded cameras, etc.) is used to make device do exactly what user wants ? without accidental taps. iPad mini employs something similar (though not as advanced, of course) since it has a much thinner frame than its larger sibling.

Bear in mind that the pictured proprietary 30-pin dock connector is a piece of history now (when it comes to new-gen iDevices), given the fact that the Cupertino company switched to a new connector named Lightning (8-pin). This should not surprise anyone, as the patent filing goes back to September 26, 2011 ? quite some time before the Lightning got introduced.

U.S. PTO Patent

Is this hiddent U.S. PTO Patent targeting the next-generation iPhone?

When it comes to the body of the device itself ? regardless of the form factor used, it could be made of multiple parts, where some of them may be made out of aluminum and others out of optically transparent material such as glass. Patent filing also contains information about the possibility to deliver the "3D experience" via two flexible displays that wrap around the body of the device. Visual content on one display would be out of a temporal phase with the content on the other, and doing so would create an illusion of depth.

Apple's flexible iPhone?

Apple’s flexible iPhone?

What is also worth noting is that one of the Samsung?s chiefs recently said that we should not expect (smartphone) devices with curved AMOLED screens any time soon. Since Samsung is "the one" playing the AMOLED game (largest owner of OLED technology patents) ? to expect such a device coming down the pike quickly could be futile. Nonetheless, if and when it shows up in this form, while it might not be the most ergonomic thing out there, it is certainly something?well, enthralling, to say the least. And yeah, we definitely would not be fans of an all-glass design in this shape.

Source: US Patent & Trademark Office

http://appft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=29&p=1&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=(apple.AS.+AND+20130328.PD.)&OS=an/apple+and+pd/3/28/2013&RS=(AN/apple+AND+PD/20130328)