Apple concept would let users customize display viewing angles for privacy

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware
Apple is working on a way to allow users to control when they want a narrow field of view on an iPhone, iPad, or Mac screen to maintain privacy and limit the amount of users who can see what's being presented.




Apple's patent application for the technology, entitled "Displays With Adjustable Angles-of-View," was filed by the company on June 30, 2016, and made public on Thursday. The patent discusses utilizing an "electrically controllable filter" to selectively polarize the screen controllable by the user.

It does not appear that the innovation is an attachable filter like previous privacy solutions. Rather, the display itself has the needed technology integrated, in a series of substrate layers.

The primary implementation appears to be another layer of liquid crystal sandwiched between substrate layers, and the polarizing layers. The liquid crystal layer may also contain a color filter layer to selectively omit or include images on the screen for wider viewing containing a particular color.

Left, normal view angle; Right, view angle after user restriction
Left, normal view angle; Right, view angle after user restriction


Other possibilities for the technology inlclude a backlight unit with a light guide layer that selectively applies light to ares of the screen. Alternatively an "electrically adjustable lens" can be used to channel backlight illumination rather than lighting or blacking out sections of the screen.

What's old is new again

Current LED screens have view angles as wide as possible, with some as great as 178 degrees from a straight-on view. Early LED displays had narrower fields, with the active matrix color display on the PowerBook 540c having only about a 45 degree field -- passive matrix displays from the same time had notably less.

The narrow field of vision was a selling point for the nascent technology. Even now, attachable polarizing filters can be used to limit angles of vision, but they must be attached to the display and cut back on color accuracy and brightness for the entire screen.

Apple's patent application suggests that sections of the screen can be selectively polarized inside the display, with no lack of color fidelity or brightness to the user intended to be using the device so equipped.

Apple hasn't limited the technology to iOS or macOS devices. The application spans a wide range of possible implementations, including a wrist-watch, a pendant, headphones, or earpieces. In essence, anything that could possible contain a display is covered by the patent.

This display patent is far more general than the other patent also made public on Thursday. The other patent application made public delved deeply into integration of OLED and quantum dot screen technology and production, down to the molecular level.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    I can see how this could be quite useful in some contexts, but I would be willing to bet good money that Apple never uses this patent.  It's too much of a niche feature to justify adding complexity and cost to a critical component (the screen).
    edited August 2017
  • Reply 2 of 13
    I can see how this could be quite useful in some contexts, but I would be willing to bet good money that Apple never uses this patent.  It's too much of a niche feature to justify adding complexity and cost to a critical component (the screen).
    I don't know if I'd call it a niche feature. Subways, planes, coffee shops and public places in general. Personally I deal with way too much communication in "public" situations. And sure you can always answer later, read it later, find a private spot, but you never know what you have to deal with or when anymore these days. I would welcome a feature that could be easily toggled on and off and I don't think it would be unused if it were available on future phones. 
    edited August 2017 lolliver
  • Reply 3 of 13
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 197member
    spliff monkey said:
    I don't know if I'd call it a niche feature. Subways, planes, coffee shops and public places in general. Personally I deal with way too much communication in "public" situations. And sure you can always answer later, read it later, find a private spot, but you never know what you have to deal with or when anymore these days. I would welcome a feature that could be easily toggled on and off and I don't think it would be unused if it were available on future phones. 
    Friend's Mother-in-Law reading 50 shades in 24+pt type on a Kindle in the aisle seat opposite, one row ahead on a flight to Cancun  :s

    Sci Fi shows with all the see-through screens…

    SpamSandwichtallest skil
  • Reply 4 of 13
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 299member
    mknelson said:
    spliff monkey said:
    I don't know if I'd call it a niche feature. Subways, planes, coffee shops and public places in general. Personally I deal with way too much communication in "public" situations. And sure you can always answer later, read it later, find a private spot, but you never know what you have to deal with or when anymore these days. I would welcome a feature that could be easily toggled on and off and I don't think it would be unused if it were available on future phones. 
    Friend's Mother-in-Law reading 50 shades in 24+pt type on a Kindle in the aisle seat opposite, one row ahead on a flight to Cancun  :s

    Sci Fi shows with all the see-through screens…

    So was she holding the Kindle with one hand or two? 
    StrangeDaysmacseekercornchip
  • Reply 5 of 13
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 197member
    JinTech said:
    mknelson said:
    spliff monkey said:
    I don't know if I'd call it a niche feature. Subways, planes, coffee shops and public places in general. Personally I deal with way too much communication in "public" situations. And sure you can always answer later, read it later, find a private spot, but you never know what you have to deal with or when anymore these days. I would welcome a feature that could be easily toggled on and off and I don't think it would be unused if it were available on future phones. 
    Friend's Mother-in-Law reading 50 shades in 24+pt type on a Kindle in the aisle seat opposite, one row ahead on a flight to Cancun  :s

    Sci Fi shows with all the see-through screens…

    So was she holding the Kindle with one hand or two? 
    She was sitting next to her grandkids and… I wasn't paying that much attention.  :D
  • Reply 6 of 13
    mknelson said:
    spliff monkey said:
    I don't know if I'd call it a niche feature. Subways, planes, coffee shops and public places in general. Personally I deal with way too much communication in "public" situations. And sure you can always answer later, read it later, find a private spot, but you never know what you have to deal with or when anymore these days. I would welcome a feature that could be easily toggled on and off and I don't think it would be unused if it were available on future phones. 
    Friend's Mother-in-Law reading 50 shades in 24+pt type on a Kindle in the aisle seat opposite, one row ahead on a flight to Cancun  :s

    Sci Fi shows with all the see-through screens…

    See, the mother of invention. You won't know what you need it for until it's needed. 
  • Reply 7 of 13
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,692member
    Anything that differentiates you front the mass adds up, if it can be done without losing something else, they will do it
  • Reply 8 of 13
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 862member
    Would be great if was part of night shift to turn it on automatically.
    Allow lower light levels at night and reduce ligthspill. 
    If this was the portrait mode feature then in Landscape could it be used as a 3D screen?

    Lens could reshape so each eye sees one of two pixels under each len and create a depth effect. 
    radarthekat
  • Reply 9 of 13
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,428moderator
    All the uses mentioned above?  Valuable.

    Preventing my girlfriend from seeing messages from my sidechicks?   Priceless!
    randominternetpersoncornchip
  • Reply 10 of 13
    I love the idea of limiting view angles as easy as a toggle button, very convenience when you just need to block someone from seeing your screen in the subway.
  • Reply 11 of 13
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,382member
    JinTech said:
    mknelson said:
    spliff monkey said:
    I don't know if I'd call it a niche feature. Subways, planes, coffee shops and public places in general. Personally I deal with way too much communication in "public" situations. And sure you can always answer later, read it later, find a private spot, but you never know what you have to deal with or when anymore these days. I would welcome a feature that could be easily toggled on and off and I don't think it would be unused if it were available on future phones. 
    Friend's Mother-in-Law reading 50 shades in 24+pt type on a Kindle in the aisle seat opposite, one row ahead on a flight to Cancun  :s

    Sci Fi shows with all the see-through screens…

    So was she holding the Kindle with one hand or two? 
    ROFL
  • Reply 12 of 13
    foggyhill said:
    Anything that differentiates you front the mass adds up, if it can be done without losing something else, they will do it
    But that's the point, there are always tradeoffs. I think the biggie would be manufacturing yields. This seems like major complexity and would take years and years to perfect if it's ever feasible. So I'll update my "never" to "within 5 years" (which is close to forever in tech terms, so it's not weaselly on my part).
    edited August 2017
  • Reply 13 of 13

    Here's use case.  Perhaps Apple can feature this in their advertising:  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/08/04/an-alert-airline-passenger-exposed-a-suspected-child-sex-predator-after-glancing-at-his-text-messages/

    Headline: An alert airline passenger exposed a suspected child sex predator after glancing at his text messages

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