One of Motorola's latest patents published by the US Patent & Trademark Office reveals a crazy future flexible, rollable display that could also function as a smartphone. It could also function as an illuminated sign, a flashlight-like device and yet only illuminate areas that are note touched by the user so that the user won't experience any display heat. Built-in sensors know where the user's face is at all times and could alter the size or position of text depending on where the user's eyes happen to be. While it's interesting and very futuristic, the jury is still out as to what it's supposed to accomplish for either the consumer or enterprise user. While Motorola has a vision here, they're apparently not in any hurry in wanting to share that with us at this time. A few tech companies including Motorola, Microsoft, LG and Samsung are betting on the future of devices with flexible and foldable displays. Some look like they have promising form factors. Motorola's idea, on the other hand, is really out-there – yet perhaps a little too out-there. While we love to applaud those who think outside the box, in this case, it's a grand idea with nowhere to go. I don't think there's much of a market for a paper-like scrollable smartphone. Then again, maybe it's just me.
One of Motorola's recent patent filing pertains to systems and methods for a rollable illumination device. In it they state that current electronic devices can offer various illumination modes wherein the electronic device can illuminate a display to provide light in an immediate area of a user. For example, an illumination mode can be useful in situations in which the user may need light for navigation, to locate an item, to see a specific item, to indicate their presence, or for other purposes. The illumination modes can illuminate displays in solid colors of light, colored patterns of light, or other configurations.
With the advent of flexible display technology for electronic devices, there is an opportunity to manage the illumination modes of a flexible display of an electronic device.
Overall, Google's first of two inventions on this matter relates to platforms and techniques for illuminating areas of a flexible display based on tactile interactions by a user and configurations of the electronic device.
More particularly, the electronic device can support one or more illumination modes, where the display screen of the electronic device can provide light in an immediate area around the device. According to embodiments, the flexible display can be rolled into a tube-like or oblique shape with the display screen as either an outer surface or an inner surface. The systems and methods can detect an overlap where the display screen overlaps with itself and can illuminate the display screen except for the area defined by the overlap.
In cases where the display screen is the outer surface of the rollable device, the systems and methods can detect a user's tactile interaction, such as the user grasping or gripping the rollable device, identify an area defined by the interaction, and obscure the area defined by the interaction such that the area underneath the user's hand will not illuminate. In embodiments, the electronic device can detect movements of the user's grip, or changes in the overlap area, and update the display accordingly.
These illumination management techniques may reduce the amount of power used for the various illumination modes by obscuring the display screen areas defined by the overlap in the display screen as well as the user's tactile interaction with the display screen.
Further, the user can comfortably grip the device without experiencing underlying heat generated by the illuminated display screen. Still further, the device can conform the illumination pattern with movements associated with the user's interaction with the touchscreen display as well as any changes to the overlap areas.
Additionally, the user's interaction may select a particular illumination mode, color, or pattern. Moreover, the device can adjust or modify an optical direction of the illumination based on touch events received from a user. As used herein, a "rollable device" can be understood to be an electronic device with any combination of hardware and software including a display screen surface configured to be at least partly rolled or flexed.
As shown in Motorola's patent in FIG. 1 above, the electronic device is configured with a set of overlap sensors 125, 127, touch sensors 130, and an optional additional sensor 119. A first set of overlap sensors 125 can be placed on or embedded within the display screen so that, when the electronic device is rolled, the front overlap sensors 125 can detect, sense, and/or help the processing module 120 refine a positioning of an overlap region(s) of the display screen.
Motorola notes that the set of overlap sensors 125 can be CMOS image sensors that can be embedded among display pixels of the display screen. A second set of overlap sensors 127 can be placed opposite the display screen, oriented to receive light from behind the display screen to help detect, sense, and/or refine locations of the overlap region(s). For example, the set of rear overlap sensors 127 can be placed on or embedded within the flexible battery 180, and can be CMOS image sensors or other sensors.
The touch sensors 130 can sense or detect user contact to control some display functionalities of the electronic device and found in the form of buttons and keys.
Motorola further notes that the electronic device will be able to support a variety of functionalities and applications. For example, the electronic device can support communication functionalities such as telephone calls, text messaging, video calls, Internet browsing, emailing, and/or the like. Further, for example, the electronic device 100 can support applications such as games, utilities (e.g., calculators, camera applications, etc.), configuration applications, and/or the like.
Motorola's patent FIG. 5 illustrates a display screen interface with nodes depicted. More particularly, the display screen interface depicts a two-dimensional view of an outer surface touchscreen of a rollable electronic device (such as the display screen 410 of FIG. 4 above). As shown, the display screen interface represents a touchscreen including a series of nodes, depicted as grid line intersections, that can sense a surface contact from, for example, a user's hand.
Motorola notes that in patent FIG. 6 we see a depiction of an example rollable device that supports an illumination mode. More particularly, FIG. 6 illustrates various contact and non-contact areas defined by a user's tactile interaction with the rollable device.
As shown in patent FIG. 6, the rollable device includes a flexible display with a non-contacted area #605 and a contacted area #670. In embodiments, the contacted area can be detected via touch events at one or more nodes of the rollable device.
During operation of an illumination mode, the rollable device can illuminate the pixels or display components corresponding to the non-contacted area with lights or other display elements in various colors, arrangements, patterns, or the like. Further, the rollable device can obscure or otherwise not illuminate the pixels or display components corresponding to the contacted area.
The illumination mode can present a "glow stick" whereby the flexible display illuminates on the outside surface to provide light in an immediate area of the electronic device.
System Overview Graphic
Motorola's second patent application regarding this invention generally relates to managing content displayed on electronic devices. In particular, the application relates to platforms and techniques for processing image data to display on a flexible display based on user viewing positions and distortion parameters.
Motorola's patent FIGS. 6A and 6C noted above depicts views of an example electronic device shown in two configurations 603 (FIG. 6A) and 607 (FIG. 6C). Each of these electronic devices include sensors (#619) capable of sensing respective users (#676) viewing each electronic device and generating image data corresponding to the respective users.
According to the embodiments, each the #619 sensors is configured to sense or detect various features of the user. For example, sensor 619 can detect the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, chin, forehead, and/or other features of the user. Further, each sensor can generate image data based on the respective locations of the eyes and mouth and a processing module of the electronic device can process the image to determine a viewing location of each of the users. Particularly, the viewing location can be based on the angle, distance, and/or other metrics that correspond to the location from which the user is viewing the display screen of the electronic device relative to the sensor.
Text will automatically enlarge as the display moves away from the user and retract as the device is returned closer to the user's eye. If you happen to wear glasses, then that might be a feature you'll need to turn off.
Motorola filed both of their patent applications back in Q2 2012 under applications 13/536352 and 13/455921. Both were published by USPTO back in Q4 2013. Considering that this is a patent application, the timing of such a product to market is unknown at this time.
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