Feeds

Apple display patent enslaves sun

Or cute little umbrellas

Security for virtualized datacentres

An Apple patent application published Thursday describes a variety of techniques for capturing light from external sources to either replace or supplement traditional backlighting of electronic-device displays.

The goals of the application, entitled "External Light Illumination of Display Screens", are threefold: to make displays more visible in bright sunlight, to cut down on the power needed to backlight displays, and by doing so to allow devices to be built with smaller batteries, thus reducing weight and bulk.

Although the application - like most of its ilk - is maddeningly opaque and convoluted, the methods it describes break down into two general techniques: first, piping light from external or internal sources to the back or edges of a display using what the filing refers to as a "manifold" or "light harness"; and second, using a reflector to capture ambient light or supplement internal lighting sources.

Those external light sources can include - but, this being a patent application, aren't limited to - "an accessory light bulb, the centralized illumination system in a vehicle cabin, or the sun".

In the manifold method, ambient light is fed into either the backside or the edges of the display through light-guide pipes constructed of "any suitable material, such as glass," that can have a reflective coating to minimize light loss.

Apple 'External Light' patent illustration

Inside a manifold, 'reflecting cones' (410) supported by LEDs (60) distribute light

The light-capturing ends of the manifolds can be arrayed around any or all sides of the display. They can either be the only method used to backlight the display, or they can be used in conjunction with traditional backlighting. In the latter example, the device may either sense when the ambient light is sufficient to illuminate the display and turn off the backlighting, or when ambient light is insufficient and fire it up.

A manifold can have internal "reflecting cones" to break up the light beam in order to distribute the light evenly. In addition, LEDs can be placed between those cones to supplement the light captured externally and traveling through the manifold.

In addition, the manifold can have a reflector or "funnel" that can be aimed at an external light source to direct light into the manifold. It can either be aimed manually or set to "automatically redirect itself toward a light source" by using, for example, solar cells to determine where light is brightest, then a motorized device to orient the light-capturing element.

The external light collector "may resemble an umbrella, and may include thin reflective material on a lightweight frame that the user may collapse when not in use". A fiber-optic cable can also be used to channel the light captured by the collector into the light-distributing manifold, thus allowing the collector to be set at some distance from the display.

The second ambient light–capturing method involves either a reflector placed behind the display or - in its simplest form - merely a translucent backing for the display that simply lets in any ambient light to do the backlighting.

Apple 'External Light' patent illustration

When closed, a reflector can direct light from a manifold (540) or an internal light source (530)

Apple 'External Light' patent illustration

When the reflector is open, the sunlight can either bounce off it or directly backlight the display

In a combo method, the reflector could be pivoted closed to direct light from a manifold or internal light source to the back of the display. The reflector could alternatively be pivoted open - perhaps by "using a wrist flick motion similar to that used to open a cellular telephone" - to reflect ambient light. It could also be removed entirely to simply let powerful ambient light such as the sun - diffused by a transluscent panel - to backlight the display when the device is properly oriented to do so. ®

Bootnote

Although the illustrations accompanying the patent application all picture a laptop, proper patentese requires that the definition of an "electronic device" to be as broad as possible - in this case the list is pretty long:

[It] can include, but is not limited to, music players, video players, still image players, game players, other media players, music recorders, video recorders, cameras, other media recorders, radios, medical equipment, domestic appliances, transportation vehicle instruments, musical instruments, calculators, cellular telephones, other wireless communication devices, personal digital assistants, remote controls, pagers, computers (e.g., desktops, laptops, tablets, servers, etc.), monitors, televisions, stereo equipment, set up boxes, set-top boxes, boom boxes, modems, routers, keyboards, mice, speakers, printers, and combinations thereof.

What, no left-handed smoke shifters?

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.