Apple patents method for embedding light sensors directly onto device displays

Posted:
in General Discussion
Apple on Tuesday was granted a patent for embedding light-sensing sensors directly into device displays, an important step in creating a full-screen iPhone without the trademark "chin and forehead" bezels.









As noted in Apple's U.S. Patent No. 9,466,653 for "Electronic devices with display-integrated light sensors," light-sensing apparatuses are commonly displaced from the device display. While advantageous from a production standpoint, such implementations lead to wasted space, or in some cases force sleek designs to be modified. Indeed, the iPhone's proximity and ALS are positioned above the display near the handset speaker.



Apple proposes forming sensors on display layers that already support conductive traces. Some embodiments provide for sensor positioning at the periphery of a device display beyond the edge of touch sensitive traces.



For example, an ALS unit might be disposed at the extreme edge of an OLED display, then covered by a touch-sensitive layer and finally an encapsulation layer. Alternatively, a handset could include a dedicated TFT layer onto which a variety of sensors are embedded.



In any case, the sensor or sensors are disposed within the display itself, not above it as with current iPhone models. This design tweak alone would save precious millimeters off final design specifications and could pave the way to a true full-screen display.



Apple is said to be working on an advanced iPhone design with "full-screen face," meaning the rumored OLED display stretches across the device's entirety. The company last week patented technology detailing a fingerprint sensor that works through portable device displays, though the ear speaker remains a problem.



Apple's embedded light sensor patent was first filed for in June 2015 and credits Erik G. de Jong, Anna-Katrina Shedletsky and Prashanth S. Holenarsipur as its inventors.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    irelandireland Posts: 17,747member
    This to me is minor compared to how they do the Home button functionality itself (not Touch ID).

    One idea I've thought of is to move Control Center up top—to the right of Notication Center, and put down at the bottom gesture the Home screens. Either atop the app UI or the gesture pushes the current app out of the way to reveal your Home screen. Obviously there's potential for confusion here, but it is only one interaction. And yet, using a dedicated Home button is still a better design. Remains to be seen how they solve this one in a truly elegant manner.

    I can also see why this bezel-free design is first only for the plus/pro model. Chop off the bezels and chins on a 4.7" design and you are chopping off a great deal of battery life.

    Right now I see a forehead-free design as impossible. You cannot put an earpiece speaker in the display at this point. You need a hole to fit one in. The speaker will need to be above the display on some kind of bezel. And I can imagine a scene where they somehow mount a camera in the display, but I cannot imagine one for now where they put a 7MP FaceTime HD camera in there. My prediction is this iPhone 8 isn't completely bezel-free on all four sides.
    edited October 2016
  • Reply 2 of 25
    ireland said:
    This to me is minor compared to how they do the Home button functionality itself (not Touch ID).

    One idea I've thought of is to move Control Center up top—to the right of Notication Center, and put down at the bottom gesture the Home screens. Either atop the app UI or the gesture pushes the current app out of the way to reveal your Home screen. Obviously there's potential for confusion here, but it is only one interaction. And yet, using a dedicated Home button is still a better design. Remains to be seen how they solve this one in a truly elegant manner.
    If I understand you correctly you mean the double tab home button fuctiin for multitasking should be replaced by swiping up from the button?! Why should they do this? They already have a non home button way for that: just 3D touch the left edge of the display. So they won't need a new gesture. But anyways, next year's iPhone will be an amazing device.
  • Reply 3 of 25
    irelandireland Posts: 17,747member
    ireland said:
    This to me is minor compared to how they do the Home button functionality itself (not Touch ID).

    One idea I've thought of is to move Control Center up top—to the right of Notication Center, and put down at the bottom gesture the Home screens. Either atop the app UI or the gesture pushes the current app out of the way to reveal your Home screen. Obviously there's potential for confusion here, but it is only one interaction. And yet, using a dedicated Home button is still a better design. Remains to be seen how they solve this one in a truly elegant manner.
    If I understand you correctly you mean the double tab home button fuctiin for multitasking should be replaced by swiping up from the button?! Why should they do this? They already have a non home button way for that: just 3D touch the left edge of the display. So they won't need a new gesture. But anyways, next year's iPhone will be an amazing device.
    No I mean the single press.
     
    3D Touch isn't intuitive enough to replace the Home button for a default feature. Especially along the bottom edge. That could be added now as a power move, but it would be a mistake for this to be default Home button functionality. The Home button is a last lifeline to a lot of users.

    "It takes you home from where ever you are". Not if it doesn't exist.
    edited October 2016
  • Reply 4 of 25
    This is both fascinating in terms of hardware and UI design. It's very difficult to achieve a no bezels design.

    Think of it for a moment: You have the Home button, you have the earpiece, you have the light sensor and proximity sensor as well as the front facing camera. Each one of these is incredibly hard to almost impossible to embed within the display itself. 

    Almost as fascinating is the UI. Without a dedicated 'Home' button, how will users exit apps? Using multi-finger gestures? Maybe using an on-screen Home button equivalent? Placing the Home button on the side of the device?

    I'm very curious about how they will solve all these issues. Amazing if they can pull it off.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 25
    irelandireland Posts: 17,747member
    billrey said:

    Almost as fascinating is the UI. Without a dedicated 'Home' button, how will users exit apps? Using multi-finger gestures? Maybe using an on-screen Home button equivalent? Placing the Home button on the side of the device?
    The side is one possibility, but it makes me shudder thinking about it.
  • Reply 6 of 25
    The densely packed and interwoven technology that we all just casually carry around on a daily basis is truly amazing.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 25
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,028member
    ireland said:
    "It takes you home from where ever you are". Not if it doesn't exist.
    If we're talking about a decade+ after Apple revolutionized the cellular handset industry with the original iPhone, we're talking about people that have very likely spent many years using an iDevice or having grown up on iDevices. At some point, the Home button being physical or manual may not need apply because today's culture understands enough key aspects about the technology that allows for additional transitions moving forward. Culture, not the general technology is the primary reason "futurists" never get it right when they try to predict the future. If I stick someone from 1910 who could drive a Ford into a 2016 Kia Rio with an automatic transmission, they likely wouldn't know how to start it up or drive it even though it's technically easier to drive. Just imagine that with a Tesla.
    lolliver
  • Reply 8 of 25
    There seems to be a minor obsession with no bezels.  I can see a bit less bezel particularly on the iPad but I kind of like having some bezel for these reasons:
    1) More room for internals relative to screen size (battery, etc.)
    2) Easier to hold without blocking any screen (it seems when I see pictures from Apple with someone holding an iPhone it looks secure with a little meat of the fingers over the edge but not covering the screen as opposed to some side bezel free phone pictures where the fingers are well on the side to underneath so they don't block the screen but look much less secure --- I tend to hold mine like the Apple pictures and it would bother me to block any screen)
    3) When holding landscape there is a nice area to place my thumbs particularly when playing games

    I could see a full screen mode for an iPad that I would use for movies but even for this I'd like a small outline bezel to frame the picture.  But I'd still like to toggle to bezel display mode for other use if possible.

    Can someone explain what benefits of no bezels you see besides more screen real estate relative to device size?
    am8449watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 25
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,028member
    sog35 said:
    ireland said:
    This to me is minor compared to how they do the Home button functionality itself (not Touch ID).

    One idea I've thought of is to move Control Center up top—to the right of Notication Center, and put down at the bottom gesture the Home screens. Either atop the app UI or the gesture pushes the current app out of the way to reveal your Home screen. Obviously there's potential for confusion here, but it is only one interaction. And yet, using a dedicated Home button is still a better design. Remains to be seen how they solve this one in a truly elegant manner.

    I can also see why this bezel-free design is first only for the plus/pro model. Chop off the bezels and chins on a 4.7" design and you are chopping off a great deal of battery life.

    Right now I see a forehead-free design as impossible. You cannot put an earpiece speaker in the display at this point. You need a hole to fit one in. The speaker will need to be above the display on some kind of bezel. And I can imagine a scene where they somehow mount a camera in the display, but I cannot imagine one for now where they put a 7MP FaceTime HD camera in there. My prediction is this iPhone 8 isn't completely bezel-free on all four sides.
    I think they should put the new home button on the side of the phone. And separate TouchID from the home button. The home button could be similiar to the power button but closer to the middle of the phone. Put the power button back on the top of the phone. Volume/Mute is unchanged.

    [image]

    I think a zero bezel design is not practical at this point. But if they can shrink the top and bottom bezel by 50% that would be huge. 

    1. To unlock phone - press home button, power button, or raise to wake. Virtual TouchID will show on screen. 3D touch to unlock.

    2. To go to home screen - press side home button

    3. Siri - hold side home button

    4. Multi-task - double tap side home button

    I think I may have figured this thing out
    Besides being on the edge, it doesn't have to be a defined button. It could be effected by force touch, so that the button runs the length on both sides for left and right-handed users, and removes another ingress and wear point on the device.

    PS: I have no doubts that everything we could come with have been thought of by Apple's engineers and tested for feasibility where possible. Do you remember how many iPhone designs came out during the Samsung trial?
    edited October 2016 lolliverwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 25
    irelandireland Posts: 17,747member
    gticus said:

    Can someone explain what benefits of no bezels you see besides more screen real estate relative to device size?
    You say that like it's not a huge deal. It's a major defining characteristic of these devices. Eventually it means those of us who like an iPhone 5-sized device may get a larger display in a device that weighs less and is no larger than an iPhone 5. This is critical. I can see when the 4.7" device gets it that some feel more comfortable moving up to that size. Personally, if I were Apple I would have a roadmap which saw a ~5.5" iPhone and a ~4.5" iPhone being the only two iPhones.

    Design is always about trade-offs. No bezels mean a smaller battery. Hence why the rumour is a 5.5 or 5.8" iPhone of this kind first, as its battery can be shrunken more easily than an smaller device without crushing the experience.
    edited October 2016
  • Reply 11 of 25
    irelandireland Posts: 17,747member
    sog35 said:
    ireland said:
    This to me is minor compared to how they do the Home button functionality itself (not Touch ID).

    One idea I've thought of is to move Control Center up top—to the right of Notication Center, and put down at the bottom gesture the Home screens. Either atop the app UI or the gesture pushes the current app out of the way to reveal your Home screen. Obviously there's potential for confusion here, but it is only one interaction. And yet, using a dedicated Home button is still a better design. Remains to be seen how they solve this one in a truly elegant manner.

    I can also see why this bezel-free design is first only for the plus/pro model. Chop off the bezels and chins on a 4.7" design and you are chopping off a great deal of battery life.

    Right now I see a forehead-free design as impossible. You cannot put an earpiece speaker in the display at this point. You need a hole to fit one in. The speaker will need to be above the display on some kind of bezel. And I can imagine a scene where they somehow mount a camera in the display, but I cannot imagine one for now where they put a 7MP FaceTime HD camera in there. My prediction is this iPhone 8 isn't completely bezel-free on all four sides.
    I think they should put the new home button on the side of the phone. And separate TouchID from the home button. The home button could be similiar to the power button but closer to the middle of the phone. Put the power button back on the top of the phone. Volume/Mute is unchanged.



    I think a zero bezel design is not practical at this point. But if they can shrink the top and bottom bezel by 50% that would be huge. 

    1. To unlock phone - press home button, power button, or raise to wake. Virtual TouchID will show on screen. 3D touch to unlock.

    2. To go to home screen - press side home button

    3. Siri - hold side home button

    4. Multi-task - double tap side home button

    I think I may have figured this thing out.

    Remember the Watch already has a side home button.
    And I think Apple was training us by putting the power button on the side of the phone for the 6 and 7.

    The thing I don't understand is why Apple made a solid state home button for the 7 if they are going to get rid of it next year? Strange.

    IMO, I think Apple should get rid of most of the taptic engine to save space and go with a side button.


    That's what they may do as we talked about above, but for me that's a worse user experience than the front facing Home button we have today. Only get rid of or move a physical button if the experience is improved—I see this as a worsening of the experience. I think they should try something more clever.
    edited October 2016
  • Reply 12 of 25
    ireland said:
    gticus said:

    Can someone explain what benefits of no bezels you see besides more screen real estate relative to device size?
    You say that like it's not a huge deal. It's a major defining characteristic of these devices. Eventually it means those of us who like an iPhone 5-sized device may get a larger display in a device that weighs less and is no larger than an iPhone 5. This is critical. I can see when the 4.7" device gets it that some feel more comfortable moving up to that size. Personally, if I were Apple I would have a roadmap which saw a ~5.5" iPhone and a ~4.5" iPhone being the only two iPhones.

    Design is always about trade-offs. No bezels mean a smaller battery. Hence why the rumour is a 5.5 or 5.8" iPhone of this kind first, as its battery can be shrunken more easily than an smaller device without crushing the experience.
    Thanks.  I understand your valid points and I've heard 2 women I work with talk about liking the iPhone 5 size and they don't listen to the volume/weight iPhone 6 etc. comparisons but they do like talking about bigger screen size as potential so that all fits right in with what you're saying.  I was just looking for a few more talking points to use to convince those like myself who may like the current 7 size and bezel that if I/we end up giving up something I/we like it is worth it moving on up.
  • Reply 13 of 25
    peejaybeeepeejaybeee Posts: 3unconfirmed, member
    billrey said:
    This is both fascinating in terms of hardware and UI design. It's very difficult to achieve a no bezels design.

    Think of it for a moment: You have the Home button, you have the earpiece, you have the light sensor and proximity sensor as well as the front facing camera. Each one of these is incredibly hard to almost impossible to embed within the display itself. 

    Almost as fascinating is the UI. Without a dedicated 'Home' button, how will users exit apps? Using multi-finger gestures? Maybe using an on-screen Home button equivalent? Placing the Home button on the side of the device?

    I'm very curious about how they will solve all these issues. Amazing if they can pull it off.
    I think they'll keep the physical home button - but it could be a think horizontal lozenge shape, taking up very little room. same for the top (the earpiece and sensors don't need to take up much room). And of course it will by symmetrical.
  • Reply 14 of 25
    irelandireland Posts: 17,747member
    sog35 said:
    ireland said:
    sog35 said:
    ireland said:
    This to me is minor compared to how they do the Home button functionality itself (not Touch ID).

    One idea I've thought of is to move Control Center up top—to the right of Notication Center, and put down at the bottom gesture the Home screens. Either atop the app UI or the gesture pushes the current app out of the way to reveal your Home screen. Obviously there's potential for confusion here, but it is only one interaction. And yet, using a dedicated Home button is still a better design. Remains to be seen how they solve this one in a truly elegant manner.

    I can also see why this bezel-free design is first only for the plus/pro model. Chop off the bezels and chins on a 4.7" design and you are chopping off a great deal of battery life.

    Right now I see a forehead-free design as impossible. You cannot put an earpiece speaker in the display at this point. You need a hole to fit one in. The speaker will need to be above the display on some kind of bezel. And I can imagine a scene where they somehow mount a camera in the display, but I cannot imagine one for now where they put a 7MP FaceTime HD camera in there. My prediction is this iPhone 8 isn't completely bezel-free on all four sides.
    I think they should put the new home button on the side of the phone. And separate TouchID from the home button. The home button could be similiar to the power button but closer to the middle of the phone. Put the power button back on the top of the phone. Volume/Mute is unchanged.



    I think a zero bezel design is not practical at this point. But if they can shrink the top and bottom bezel by 50% that would be huge. 

    1. To unlock phone - press home button, power button, or raise to wake. Virtual TouchID will show on screen. 3D touch to unlock.

    2. To go to home screen - press side home button

    3. Siri - hold side home button

    4. Multi-task - double tap side home button

    I think I may have figured this thing out.

    Remember the Watch already has a side home button.
    And I think Apple was training us by putting the power button on the side of the phone for the 6 and 7.

    The thing I don't understand is why Apple made a solid state home button for the 7 if they are going to get rid of it next year? Strange.

    IMO, I think Apple should get rid of most of the taptic engine to save space and go with a side button.


    That's what they may do as we talked about above, but for me that's a worse user experience than the front facing Home button we have today. Only get rid of or move a physical button if the experience is improved—I see this as a worsening of the experience. I think they should try something more clever.
    The experience will improve because the 4.7 inch phone will be a true 1-handed device if removing the home button from the face of the phone decreases the bezel by 50-75%.  It will also make the phone much more pocketable.

    But the big winner would be for the Plus models. Shrinking the bezel by 50-75% will make the phone MUCH, MUCH more pocketable and will allow almost 1-handed operation for almost everything.

    If Apple can shrink the bezel on the iPhone 8+ by 75% it would be almost the same height as the current iPhone7. And if they can shrink the side bezel also, then it would be just slightly wider. Having a Plus model that has a footprint almost as small as the iPhone7 would be amazing. I'm a Plus user and the larger footprint is the only thing I don't like about my phone.
    Size shrinkage is a big deal but by 75%? Huh? Oh you mean the bezels. But anyway, a side Home button would not be my cup of tea.
  • Reply 15 of 25
    irelandireland Posts: 17,747member
    sog35 said:
    ireland said:
    gticus said:

    Can someone explain what benefits of no bezels you see besides more screen real estate relative to device size?
    You say that like it's not a huge deal. It's a major defining characteristic of these devices. Eventually it means those of us who like an iPhone 5-sized device may get a larger display in a device that weighs less and is no larger than an iPhone 5. This is critical. I can see when the 4.7" device gets it that some feel more comfortable moving up to that size. Personally, if I were Apple I would have a roadmap which saw a ~5.5" iPhone and a ~4.5" iPhone being the only two iPhones.

    Design is always about trade-offs. No bezels mean a smaller battery. Hence why the rumour is a 5.5 or 5.8" iPhone of this kind first, as its battery can be shrunken more easily than an smaller device without crushing the experience.
    They could make the phones slightly thicker for battery life
    True, to a certain extent only though. If the point is you get a smaller and lighter phone, making them thicker kills the point.
  • Reply 16 of 25
    irelandireland Posts: 17,747member
    billrey said:
    This is both fascinating in terms of hardware and UI design. It's very difficult to achieve a no bezels design.

    Think of it for a moment: You have the Home button, you have the earpiece, you have the light sensor and proximity sensor as well as the front facing camera. Each one of these is incredibly hard to almost impossible to embed within the display itself. 

    Almost as fascinating is the UI. Without a dedicated 'Home' button, how will users exit apps? Using multi-finger gestures? Maybe using an on-screen Home button equivalent? Placing the Home button on the side of the device?

    I'm very curious about how they will solve all these issues. Amazing if they can pull it off.
    I think they'll keep the physical home button - but it could be a think horizontal lozenge shape, taking up very little room. same for the top (the earpiece and sensors don't need to take up much room). And of course it will by symmetrical.
    I was thinking similar too tbh. This sounds like a better user experience, where you press it more with tip of your thumb over now where you use the flat of your thumb.
    edited October 2016
  • Reply 17 of 25
    irelandireland Posts: 17,747member
    sog35 said:
    billrey said:
    This is both fascinating in terms of hardware and UI design. It's very difficult to achieve a no bezels design.

    Think of it for a moment: You have the Home button, you have the earpiece, you have the light sensor and proximity sensor as well as the front facing camera. Each one of these is incredibly hard to almost impossible to embed within the display itself. 

    Almost as fascinating is the UI. Without a dedicated 'Home' button, how will users exit apps? Using multi-finger gestures? Maybe using an on-screen Home button equivalent? Placing the Home button on the side of the device?

    I'm very curious about how they will solve all these issues. Amazing if they can pull it off.
    I think they'll keep the physical home button - but it could be a think horizontal lozenge shape, taking up very little room. same for the top (the earpiece and sensors don't need to take up much room). And of course it will by symmetrical.

    Only negative is it would look like the current Samsung home button
    They'd be easy to distinguish: pressing one fills your room with smoke.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 25
    irelandireland Posts: 17,747member
    It won't be iPhone X because everyone and their uncle would pronounce it "ex". Besides, that's not your design. It's a crude mockup sketch based on other people's ideas.
    edited October 2016
  • Reply 19 of 25
    sog35 said:
    ireland said:
    It won't be iPhone X because everyone and their uncle would pronounce it "ex". Besides, that's not your design. It's a crude mockup sketch based on other people's ideas.
    It is my design. Show me who had this design before me? 

    Next years phone will be called iPhone X
    Then 2018 will be iPhone X2
    Then 2019 will be iPhone X3

    It will be a nice break in the naming of the iPhone

    You can call it iPhone 10 or iPhone 'ex', does not matter.
    But in 2018 it will be iPhone 'Ex two'
    Apple is done with "X". They're no longer tied to "X"... "X" never happened.
  • Reply 20 of 25
    tshapitshapi Posts: 343member
    You guys are forgetting some major things. 
    1) Apple will never transition to a phone face that looks like a Samsung phone. 

    2) Apple will keep the home button where it is.  It won't be a physical home button, this has become icon for the iPhone. 

    After all how hard is it  to embed the home button under the screen. 

    Personally I think Apple is positioning 3D Touch to replace the home button. 

    The already have a gesture for multi tasking, if they build the Touch ID into the screen, how hard would it be to create gestures for Siri or for home. Or anything else .  I also think Apple will start making more buttons 3D Touch like the volume buttons. The more they can incorporate into the screen the less moving parts they have the thinner the device can be.

    3) Apple is on a quest for thinner and lighter. The last thing they are gonna do is add more buttons. 

    Apple has a method of operating. They seem to do things in parts.  First Touch ID then Apple Pay... first Taptic home button that way they work out any bugs or dislikes,   then next year it will be the real reason why they transitioned away from a physical home button. Probably to accommodate a edge to edge screen 
    watto_cobra
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