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Patent: Apple is working on self-healing coatings for future foldables
- 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.
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 factor’s key issues before launching a device of its own. Other patents spotted from Apple suggest the company’s also trying to kill the unsightly screen crease present on most foldables, a tech that could feature on a folding iPad or MacBook, too.
We should stress, this filing also doesn’t explicitly mean we’ll see a folding Apple device in the near future, but if we do, it could be one of the more durable devices available.