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Google files patent tackling the issue of foldable display durability

Since the advent of LG’s patents in the past year with all the possibilities they thought about bendable phones, major league mobile manufacturers have got their hands dirty too. Foldable tablets and phones are straight out of Sci-fi movies or shows and Samsung just helped us get closer to Westworld. Samsung showcased the first bendable display in a rugged case and in very dim light, probably because they wanted to just give them a boost in the race. This called for other manufacturers to put up their work hats and get started.

Google took no time in getting things dusted from modular phones and working on the paradigm shift of bendable phones. The tech giant saw the problems that the bendable display is facing and with great mechanical flaws, nothing is perfect. Google’s patent hints at a better and durable display for future smartphones. “The core benefit of a foldable smartphone is that the user can have the benefit of a larger display but can still fit it into their pocket, coat, or purse.”, and that is exactly what the company is working on with a tad bit of their Googliness.

The patent says “foldable computing device” with an abstract that reads, “An information handling system may be in the form of a tablet computer such as a tablet computer. The tablet computer has a bendable display and may be foldable about an axis to cause the display to be bended and form an outer surface of the folded tablet computer or portion thereof. When the tablet computer is folded, the bended display may be displaced relative to a portion of the housing of the tablet computer.”
Source: https://patents.google.com/patent/US9952627B2/en

From a layman’s perspective, the basic problem when it comes to manufacturing bendable phones is the screen and the body that it sits on. The bending screen is not much of an issue as we have seen Samsung and LG showcasing their screens at CES and other events. What turns our heads is the requirement of such materials that it can sit on and still bend. Phones these days use metallic uni-body design, some use gun-metal body or just glass back for more durability. But in the case of bendable phones, this becomes a huge issue.

From a layman’s perspective, the basic problem when it comes to manufacturing bendable phones is the screen and the body that it sits on. The bending screen is not much of an issue as we have seen Samsung and LG showcasing their screens at CES and other events. What turns our heads is the requirement of such materials that it can sit on and still bend. Phones these days use metallic uni-body design, some use gun-metal body or just glass back for more durability. But in the case of bendable phones, this becomes a huge issue.

There are 3 features that strike on the patent, the first states a limit to the level of bend that can be performed by the device, by using low stretch fibers that won’t wear off the repeated bending of those screens. Then comes Nitinol to the rescue, a flexible shape memory alloy with the ability to return to its original structure after being bent. If this doesn’t sound coming from a Sci-Fi movie, I don’t know what will.

The final guardian of bending phones is the use of foam or gel to thicken. The material is also capable of electrical conductivity. This allows a bend without the need of human force, just like TARS from Interstellar, these devices can bend and fold in any way by coding them into it. A flexible device that changes shape on giving it instruction will open up many possibilities in the consumer electronics and many other markets. So does this mean we finally created programmable matter? Or are we really near to it?

However, there is still time to view Google’s steps on this patent and how Google deals with it, a phone? A smartwatch? Or something completely unexpected?

Stay tuned to Tech Includes for more. Peace.

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Written by Snehasish Nayak

Google Top Contributor (Allo, Duo), a Local Guide, and Founder of TechIncludes. Follow me on twitter @Th3Snehasish.

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