What’s next for iPhone? Flexible displays with tactile keyboard, laser mics and surround speakers built-in

When Apple announced iPhone 5, there was a collective sigh from tech blogosphere . “Boooriiing…” – complained geeks around the world. “It’s the same design from 3 years ago” – added pundits.

And they were right. It was basically the same old design that started with iPhone 4. And no amount of hardware craftsmanship that went into iPhone 5 can change that fact. But fear not – Apple did not fall asleep and kept the old design out of laziness. iPhone looks are already pretty good, plus Apple isn’t a company to changes things without a good reason. And there simply was no new technology available that would warrant big design updates.

In it’s R&D labs, however, Apple has some wicked things cooking. They should blow you mind when the tech engineers in Cupertino  are experimenting with, becomes available widely enough to be used in the next iPhone.

Some of these things are flexible displays with tactile keyboard, laser mics and speakers built into them. Here’re a couple of drawings of iPhone with convex and concave displays from a patent application published today.

But the shape of displays or devices themselves is not the most interesting or important part of this. It’s what else flexible surface of the display would allow Apple to do – like replacing and improving all traditional input/output elements of the phone.

E.g. –  by placing an array of piezoelectric actuators below the display and activating them on demand for tactile feedback. This way you have a perfectly smooth surface when you browse the net or read your e-mail. Call up a keyboard, actuators pop up and now you can feel the letters as you type.

Since your display is flexible – it could be able react to the sound vibrations as you speak. So why not put a laser microphone behind the display to capture those vibrations, and get rid of traditional mic holes?

And if you can capture sound vibrations via flexible display, how about generating sound waves? No problem. Just put a transducer behind it to transform electric current into vibrations, add some support structure/barrier around it and that part of your flex display becomes a speaker membrane.

Put an array of transducers behind the screen and you got yourself a bunch of display based speakers. Get each transducer to vibrate differently, and now your iPhone can have subwoofers, woofers, mid-range speakers, tweeters, supertweeters, etc; – all of them built into a display.

Sounds cool, eh? It might take a few years still, but flexible display technology is getting there. Not without some setbacks, but Samsung should have the first AMOLED touchscreens in mass production next year. So flexi-screened iPhone with  all this crazy stuff built-in, may not be that far-off.

Author: Stasys Bielinis

While I like to play with the latest gadgets, I am even more interested in broad technology trends. With mobile now taking over the world - following the latest technology news, looking for insights, sharing and discussing them with passionate audience - it's hard to imagine a better place for me to be. You can find me on Twitter as @UVStaska'

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  • TinkRow

    That acutally looks like its gonna be good!


  • JohnDoey

    iPhone 5 is basically the same design as iPhone 1. That is exactly what everybody wants. A better iPhone — not a different device and iPhone is over.

  • hyperhyper

    I’ll be interested in hearing how Apple spins this ‘innovation’ after other phone manufacturers will have had this technology on the market for 1-2 years. Wonder if they will ever get their mojo back – they are falling way behind on the technology front.

  • http://www.facebook.com/infantry.hooa ??? Möbius

    This is the dirty reality of American patent world. Since Apple doesn’t have any mechanical technologies & manufacturing line for smart phone but takes a consignment with other companies’ parts. Now they are going to claim that flexible display tech via their piece of 2nd elementary grade drawing before Samsung’s post model has showing off with that display – which samsung already has introduced in CES 2011. If the claim has accepted by any court in U.S., the international patent court in America should lost their credibilty to the World, and no one will try to invent/innovate anything against American piggy patent monopoly. Guys, is this what you believe about “Innovation?” watch this –

  • http://www.facebook.com/lawrence.lee.3954 Lawrence Lee
  • OMGchad

    “They should blow **you** mind when the tech engineers in Cupertino are experimenting with” – Small typo