Maybe Bendgate was just an early test of Apple’s next big thing? Apple on Tuesday was awarded a new patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for “flexible electronic devices,” which outlines designs and technologies intended for mobile devices.
The patent, originally filed September 30, 2011, doesn’t describe curved devices like those hitting the market today in the mobile and display industries. Rather, patent 8,929,085 describes truly flexible devices, illustrating its point with depictions of an iPhone that can be bent, folded, and twisted at will.
The proposed design is possible thanks to existing technologies like rigid-flex circuits, pliable batteries, flexible glass or plastic, fiber composites, and even fabric, producing a flexible yet durable device.
In addition to freely flexing, Apple’s patent describes the device as having “multi-stable flex regions,” which would give it two or more standard configurations or placements, such as being folded completely in half, or folded on one end, which could act as an integrated stand.
Beyond the convenience and durability factors of a flexible mobile device, the patent further describes ways that such a design could be functional, with users able to trigger certain software events by manipulating the device, such as squeezing it to turn it off.
A future iPhone or iPad designed with the processes outlined in the patent would not only offer unique usage opportunities, but also significantly increase durability as well. As the patent notes, “rigid electronic devices may be vulnerable to damage in the event of an impact such as a drop of the device on a hard surface,” but by their very nature, flexible devices would be far more resilient to the typical accidents that cause damage to today’s mobile devices.
Patent 8,929,085 is available for review at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website. It lists Apple current and former employees Jeremy Franklin, Scott Myers, Benjamin Rappoport, Stephen Lynch, John Ternus, and Justin Wodrich as inventors.