Earlier this month the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Samsung relating to future flexible displays. More specifically, future flexible displays that will include a built-in alarm system designed to alert the device owner when excessive force is being applied to the display so as to not permanently deform the display.
Flex Displays with Built-In Strain Gauges
In the not-too-distant future flexible displays will be making their way to market. Some of the designs for flex displays will be permanently fixed so that the display forms bent sides or a curved top or that totally wraparound a device. The other kind of flexible device display will be one involving a flexible area within the display design that could be purposely folded or unfolded to create shapes such as an e-book, e-wallet or other such design. The latter designs will require a few added manufacturing steps to ensure that consumers don't overly bend a display out of shape to the point of causing permanent deformation.
In Samsung's patent FIG. 2 illustrated below, we see a flexible display panel based device # 100 that displays a series of carefully placed strain gauges (# 113) arranged on one surface of the flexible display panel (# 111). According to Samsung, the strain gauges sense bending deformation of the flexible display panel including any cracks.
The flexible display panel is designed to be bent, folded and unfolded with relative ease. The invented strain gauges are a type of sensor for measuring a strain based on the principle that when external forces are applied to a conductive wire, the conductive wire is elastically extended. So the resulting change in length and diameter of the conductive wire changes the total electrical resistance of the conductive wire.
Samsung further describes that when the flexible display panel is bent or folded, tensile force is applied to its outer surface. Then, the strain gauges measure the strain of the outer surface of the flexible display panel. The strain gauges are attached to one surface of the flexible display panel and are arranged at a predetermined interval along the entire periphery of the flexible display panel. Therefore, when the flexible display panel is deformed in any direction, its strain or cracks can be sensed.
An Alarm will be set-off if the user Over-Bends the Display
According to Samsung's filing, after the display has been bent, the flexible display panel may return to its original shape in an elastic deformation range, but seldom returns to its original shape in a plastic deformation range. Therefore, when the strain of the flexible display panel measured by the strain gauges reaches a particular strain tolerance, the device will generate a warning signal by means of an alarm sound.
A user may recognize from the alarm sound or warning screen that the flexible display panel has reached a deformation tolerance and thus may stop the deformation of the flexible display panel. FIG. 6 is a diagram illustrating a circuit for processing a strain measured by the strain gage illustrated in FIG. 2.
Samsung notes that the processor will save the data in the memory when the flexible display panel is bent because over-bending over time will eventually permanently deform, crack, or fracture the display. The data saved will tell Samsung's technicians if the unit was abused or not.
Adding Guide Rods
The other key aspect of Samsung's patent filing is illustrated in patent FIG. 5 above in the form of a guide rod noted as patent point # 115. The guide rod may be installed in order to prevent excessive deformation of the flexible display panel. When the flexible display panel is deformed by bending or any other manipulation, the guide rod will keep the flexible display panel at or above a predetermined curvature.
Samsung filed their patent application under serial number 616621 back in Q3 2012 in the US and one year earlier in Korea. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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