A new release by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) might just provide a glimpse of the future of Apple's popular iPhone handset. The filing details an “electronic device with wrap around display” and includes a number interesting design features, paramount among which is its curved display and transparent housing.
The product detailed in the patent features a flexible AMOLED display “rolled up” and placed inside a conical transparent enclosure. The display, which wraps around the entirety of the device, would provide the user with significantly more screen real estate than that found on current smartphones and tablets. The drawings provided with the filing show several variants of the design, some of which appear more workable than others.
Though it represents a significant evolution of the now familiar touchscreen form factor, a display that covers both sides of the device brings up its own problems, first of which is the placement of the end user. To solve this problem, the handset would feature camera-based facial recognition technology to ensure that the visual content is displayed only in the user's field of vision.
Some of the embodiments show the significant aesthetic benefits of the curved form factor, but it's worth noting that the handset is unlikely to be entirely transparent, with the processor and other unsightly internals residing in a masked area of the glass enclosure. Even so, the innovative and clean design is certainly appealing, and seems to speak to Apple's penchant for simplicity.
Further to this, the futuristic smartphone would feature no physical buttons, with actions such as unlocking being achieved through gestures, such as running a finger along the side of the device.
Though it's very unlikely that we'll see this device any time soon, flexible display technology isn't particularly new, with Samsung revealing its flexible AMOLED displays back at CES 2011. Last year, Corning also unveiled a thin and flexible version of its protective Gorilla Glass technology, known as Willow Glass, that would help make concepts such as this a reality.