Apple Inc. (AAPL) Granted by US Patent for Sidewall Display: The Future of iPhone Redesigned

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By Jenille Cristy Maido | May 16, 2014 12:35 PM EST

After three years on the pending list of patent application, Apple Inc. (AAPL) is finally granted a new patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) titled "Electronic devices with sidewall displays."

REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/Files
Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Tab (front) and Apple's iPad are seen in Seoul, in this May 13, 2013 file picture illustration. A U.S. jury on May 2, 2014, ordered Samsung Electronics Co Ltd to pay $119.6 million to Apple Inc, after it found the South Korean smartphone maker had infringed two Apple patents. During the month-long trial in a San Jose, California, federal court, Apple accused Samsung of violating patents on smartphone features including universal search, while Samsung denied wrongdoing.

The approved patent is official as U.S. Patent No. 8,723,824. As its title suggests, Apple asked for an exclusive rights to design devices with sidewall displays in the near future. This also means that the Cupertino tech-giant would possibly be releasing devices that will implement the patented technology, especially on the design of the iPhones.

How an Apple device with sidewall display would look like? 

According to the patent's document, Apple claims the right for a design of an electronic device with a flexible, transparent display that wraps through the device's edges. These displays may be formed by using flexible screens like the OLED technology.

Though the sidewall is basically part of the main screen, it may be a separate entity from different portions of the display. The side screen will not be a continuation of the images or applications found in front of the screen, but will provide different functions as the device allows.

What are the functions that it could possibly include? 

The Apple patent reads that the "sidewall of an electronic device may be repurposed for supporting user input operations in different operating modes of the electronic device." In layman's term, the controls on the sidewalls of an Apple device can be customisable, letting users place virtual buttons of their choice. The document sampled that these buttons may be a volume button or a camera shutter among others.

Since the sidewall is also a functioning screen, thus, it is also touch-sensitive, allowing tapping, swiping, sliding, and other motion commands to make the device function as the user dictates. Moreover, the sidewall can also include a scrollable list in "multiple dimensions in accordance to a present invention".

If implemented in future Apple devices, specifically the upcoming models of the iPhones, there is a big possibility that the device will lose the press buttons for the usual functionalities such as the volume controls and the camera shutter.

In a different light, the sidewall display may require a redesign for the Apple's device cases since commands basically works on touch. [Read More for the Apple's (AAPL) Patent Full Text]

Will there be a sidewall display for the upcoming iPhone 6?

The design of the upcoming iPhone 6 is still a subject of speculations and unofficial mock-ups. Apple, on the other hand, did not confirm nor provided solid details regarding their newest flagship.

Meanwhile, if the patented sidewall display will be integrated by Apple in its iPhone 6, this is surely a "new" for the device's line that can make the model more interesting.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/Files / )
Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Tab (front) and Apple's iPad are seen in Seoul, in this May 13, 2013 file picture illustration. A U.S. jury on May 2, 2014, ordered Samsung Electronics Co Ltd to pay $119.6 million to Apple Inc, after it found the South Korean smartphone maker had infringed two Apple patents. During the month-long trial in a San Jose, California, federal court, Apple accused Samsung of violating patents on smartphone features including universal search, while Samsung denied wrongdoing.
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