Good news clumsy iPhone owners: Apple is working on ‘self-healing’ screens that automatically repair dents and scratches.
A patent application by the tech giant reveals that the magical feature could be used on a foldable iPhone, as well as a number of other devices.
How exactly it will work is not totally clear at this stage, but it will involve using elastomer, which with the help of a little heat can stretch and return to its original form.
The patent application reads: “During operation of an electronic device, the display cover layer for the electronic device may be scratched or dented. To improve the aesthetics of the electronic device, it may be desirable for the presence of scratches and dents to be minimized.
“To help mitigate the number of dents, scratches, or other imperfections in a display cover layer, the display cover layer may include a layer of self-healing material.”
Going on to speak about the desirability of a ‘self-healing’ material for a future foldable phone, the patent continues: “The layer of self-healing material may be formed across the entire display cover layer or may be formed only in the flexible region of the display cover layer.
“The display cover layer may include a layer of elastomer in the flexible region of the display cover layer for increased flexibility. The layer of self-healing material may cover the layer of elastomer in the flexible region.”
It goes on to say that the self-healing wizardry could happen automatically, or at a designated time; for example, you might pop your phone on to charge and simultaneously mend its imperfections.
The application explains: “Self-healing may occur in the layer of self-healing material without prompting (e.g. when the self-healing coating is dented, the material of the coating may fill the dent even without external intervention). Alternatively, the self-healing may be initiated or expedited by externally applied heat, light, electric current, or other type of external stimulus.
“When heat is used as a stimulus for the self-healing process, the display cover layer may include transparent conductors that form a heating layer in the display cover layer. The heating layer may be used to generate heat to stimulate self-healing.
“The heating layer may be used to generate heat in response to user input, according to a predetermined schedule, or when the electronic device is charging.”
Apple is keen to clarify in the patent application that the tech could be used on a whole host of different devices too, including: laptops, tablets, wrist watch devices, gaming devices and navigation devices.
The severity of the damage than can be repaired by the self-healing sorcery remains to be seen, but here’s hoping it ushers in a new era of care-free drunken phone smashing.