Apple looks to extend display life with removable LED strips

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
With Apple rapidly transitioning its notebooks -- and eventually its desktops -- to flat-panel displays lit by LEDs rather than CCFLs, the Mac maker is simultaneously researching cost-effective solutions that would extend the life of those displays should the LED backlights eventually burn out.



In a new patent filing discovered by AppleInsider this week, the Cupertino-based company notes that flat-panel computer displays have traditionally been lit by cold cathode fluorescent lamps ("CCFL").



It explains, however, that CCFL technology has not kept pace with advances in other technologies that have reduced the size and weight of many of the other display components. In addition, the entire display must often be replaced once a CCFL lamp burns out.



As such, Apple explains that light-emitting diodes ("LEDs") technology offers attractive alternatives to CCFLs because they are much thinner and do not require many of the weighty power supply systems that CCFLs do.



"However, one LED is not sufficient to light an entire display," the company said. "Furthermore, some LEDs may have a shorter operating life then a CCFL, and replacing an entire display due to a failed LED can be costly."



The Mac maker's solution is to develop a quick and cost effective removable LED light strip that does not require the replacement of an entire screen, and instead slides in and out of the base of a flat-panel display in very much the same way a memory card sides in and out of a digital camera.



"Thus, for example, if the removable light strip or portions thereof fail, the removable light strip may be readily, quickly, and inexpensively removed from the screen for quick replacement," the company said. "Similarly, as light source technologies continue to improve over time, newer and better performing removable light strips can be easily exchanged for earlier ones, as desired."







More specifically, Apple said its concept calls for side firing LEDs to be mounted on and electrically connected to one another via a flexible strip with a power feed contact that connects to the screen. The LEDs would each be spaced the same distance from each other on the flexible strip, which would folded back on itself to form a folded flex once inserted into the base of the display.



While design rules for electrical connections have long limited how closely LEDs may be mounted to each other on a flexible strip, Apple said it "unexpectedly discovered" during its experimentation that increased LED density can be achieved, not by decreasing, but rather by increasing the spacing between the LEDs on the flex strip because it results in a decrease in spacing once the strip is folded.



"Thus, the LEDs can be mounted on the folded flex with maximum density and little or no space at all between the LEDs," the company said.







An alternative method described in the filing would forgo a single foldable LED strip for two separate strips: one that would be inserted into the top of the display and one that would be inserted into the bottom.



The invention is credited to Apple employees Victor Yin and John Zhong.
«13

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 43
    Ok, the first thing I'd do is replace it with a sweet neon strip.
  • Reply 2 of 43
    ringoringo Posts: 328member
    This is a great idea. After inverters, the backlight is the most frequent part of LCDs to die. With the exception of impact damage, the actual LCD matrix generally doesn't die. It's doubtful that they would make the backlight user-serviceable, but having it a similar repair to an inverter would save a lot of people a lot of money.
  • Reply 3 of 43
    camroidv27camroidv27 Posts: 523member
    A user replaceable part like this? Coming from the company that refuses to put a "user replaceable" battery in all of their music players, and even a laptop? A company that has no user serviceable drives in their pro series laptops, and same for their iMac. Seriously?



    All negative thoughts aside, I think all companies should adopt this type of an idea for their screens, even TV manufactures. LED's aren't exactly cheap (will get cheaper), but makes it so if something does go wrong, we don't have to shell out $600 in order to replace only the lamp in our screens.



    I seriously hope Apple does do this in their displays in the future. My thoughts of the company would improve if they do things more like this!



    I can see other people wanting to have a certain color temperature light in their computer depending on what they do.
  • Reply 4 of 43
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,003member
    wow, imagine that -- modular design. Kinda like the original IBM-PC design with separate cards which, when designed to spec, can be plugged into the system bus to extend functionality. Or, a more relevant analogy, separating the power supply from the motherboard in a way that one can be replaced independently of the other.



    I'm certainly not expecting that Apple will actually design a open spec for this so that third parties can create parts (thus reducing the cost through competition), but just the fact that they're actually considering making something like this user serviceable is a good sign.
  • Reply 5 of 43
    boogabooga Posts: 1,079member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by camroidv27 View Post


    A user replaceable part like this? Coming from the company that refuses to put a "user replaceable" battery in all of their music players, and even a laptop? A company that has no user serviceable drives in their pro series laptops, and same for their iMac. Seriously?



    All negative thoughts aside, I think all companies should adopt this type of an idea for their screens, even TV manufactures. LED's aren't exactly cheap (will get cheaper), but makes it so if something does go wrong, we don't have to shell out $600 in order to replace only the lamp in our screens.



    I seriously hope Apple does do this in their displays in the future. My thoughts of the company would improve if they do things more like this!



    I can see other people wanting to have a certain color temperature light in their computer depending on what they do.



    I don't see Apple ever putting this on the outside of their case (can you really see Jobs allowing there to be extra cracks/lines in the exterior casing?)... but I could see if you remove the outer case that this invention would still be useful as a technician-replacable mechanism.
  • Reply 6 of 43
    8corewhore8corewhore Posts: 833member
    I like.
  • Reply 7 of 43
    macinthe408macinthe408 Posts: 1,050member
    Note that Engineering thinks of great inventions such as this one. But do you really think that Marketing will let this idea fly when Apple would make way more money on replacing an entire LCD display instead of a cheap little LCD strip?
  • Reply 8 of 43
    satchmosatchmo Posts: 2,699member
    Why do I get a feeling we'll see a MBP that resembles this.



    [IMG][/IMG]
  • Reply 9 of 43
    ringoringo Posts: 328member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by macinthe408 View Post


    Note that Engineering thinks of great inventions such as this one. But do you really think that Marketing will let this idea fly when Apple would make way more money on replacing an entire LCD display instead of a cheap little LCD strip?



    By that reasoning, why would they do anything that reduces the machine's TCO? Why would they make the inverter a separate part?
  • Reply 10 of 43
    voretaq7voretaq7 Posts: 9member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by macinthe408 View Post


    Note that Engineering thinks of great inventions such as this one. But do you really think that Marketing will let this idea fly when Apple would make way more money on replacing an entire LCD display instead of a cheap little LCD strip?



    I do -- I doubt this will be a user-replaceable part, and Apple will still make their markup on the technician's time to replace the unit.



    As an added benefit, when a lamp fails during the warranty period Apple won't have to eat the cost of a full display unit (hundreds of dollars @ wholesale) when they can replace this module (tens of dollars @ wholesale).
  • Reply 11 of 43
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by camroidv27 View Post


    A user replaceable part like this? Coming from the company that refuses to put a "user replaceable" battery in all of their music players, and even a laptop? A company that has no user serviceable drives in their pro series laptops, and same for their iMac. Seriously?



    All negative thoughts aside, I think all companies should adopt this type of an idea for their screens, even TV manufactures. LED's aren't exactly cheap (will get cheaper), but makes it so if something does go wrong, we don't have to shell out $600 in order to replace only the lamp in our screens.



    I seriously hope Apple does do this in their displays in the future. My thoughts of the company would improve if they do things more like this!



    I can see other people wanting to have a certain color temperature light in their computer depending on what they do.



    NOWHERE does it say it would be user replaceable. This means that a $700+ repair cost to replace the entire LCD component, the cost of the repair for a bad backlight could be 10-20% of the whole component.



    No way that would EVER be user replaceable, Not that I care, I've got AppleCare Certification.
  • Reply 12 of 43
    ivladivlad Posts: 740member
    Apple is on some roll with these technologies!!! Thank god for Patent Office. Apple really thinking different.

    LOVE IT



  • Reply 13 of 43
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by auxio View Post


    wow, imagine that -- modular design. Kinda like the original IBM-PC design with separate cards which, when designed to spec, can be plugged into the system bus to extend functionality. Or, a more relevant analogy, separating the power supply from the motherboard in a way that one can be replaced independently of the other.



    I'm certainly not expecting that Apple will actually design a open spec for this so that third parties can create parts (thus reducing the cost through competition), but just the fact that they're actually considering making something like this user serviceable is a good sign.



    Modular design eats up a lot of space, that is why they got away from it.
  • Reply 14 of 43
    aiolosaiolos Posts: 228member
    This seems cool, and would definitely be a nice alternative to having to replace the whole display.
  • Reply 15 of 43
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,803member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by macinthe408 View Post


    Note that Engineering thinks of great inventions such as this one. But do you really think that Marketing will let this idea fly when Apple would make way more money on replacing an entire LCD display instead of a cheap little LCD strip?



    That's a mistaken impression. Companies don't want to have to replace anything. Least of all, under warrantee.



    If this could save time and money for Apple during a repair, that's more important.



    It also goes to reputation. The less expensive a repair is, the more likely the customer will be satisfied, and that means buying more products from the company, as well as recommending it to others.



    Apple already has the best reputation in this regard. It's not likely they want to tarnish it, but rather to make it better.



    Besides, this is just a good idea.
  • Reply 16 of 43
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,803member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by satchmo View Post


    Why do I get a feeling we'll see a MBP that resembles this.



    [IMG][/IMG]



    The side mirror WOULD be helpful. You could spot your boss coming up from behind.
  • Reply 17 of 43
    heffequeheffeque Posts: 139member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by satchmo View Post


    Why do I get a feeling we'll see a MBP that resembles this.







    Argh!!! I loooove Audis... {drooling} Actually Audi's style resembles Apple's MBP's style.
  • Reply 18 of 43
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 1,863member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by aiolos View Post


    This seems cool, and would definitely be a nice alternative to having to replace the whole display.



    Yeah but this is very un-Apple, I really doubt this will every happen. If they need to have anything replaceable it should be the iMac's mobo for a newer one.
  • Reply 19 of 43
    bloggerblogbloggerblog Posts: 1,863member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by macinthe408 View Post


    Note that Engineering thinks of great inventions such as this one. But do you really think that Marketing will let this idea fly when Apple would make way more money on replacing an entire LCD display instead of a cheap little LCD strip?



    Marketing has everything to do with it, they could think of a thousand commercials and ads. What you probably meant was Accounting, yeah they may think that selling a non-repairable product should result in more frequent purchases. Bean-counters are often totally oblivious to marketing.
  • Reply 20 of 43
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,803member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post


    Yeah but this is very un-Apple, I really doubt this will every happen. If they need to have anything replaceable it should be the iMac's mobo for a newer one.



    That's very funny. Which company does that?
Sign In or Register to comment.