Most of the accounts of Apple patents don't delve too deeply into either the scientific details of Apple patents or the practical difficulties involved in implementing them in mass market manufacturing processes. And many of the accounts continue to assume, despite years of evidence to the contrary, that Apple smartphone and tablet patents will show up in the next product release, just months away. This is the Fantasy & Science Fiction section of Internet rumoring.
The main patent in question involves technologies that create a "smart glass" panel (or "magic morphing chassis" as TechRadar translates it) - an electric current can make it change from opaque to transparent. Smartphone components, such as a camera and flash, can be hidden by an opaque window and then made visible by making the window transparent.
Although TechRadar implies that Apple will do this using a "polymer-dispersed liquid crystal (PDLC) window," the text of the patent's abstract actually mentions PDLC as one possible technology. The website doesn't explain what polymer-dispersal liquid crystal actually is.
Wikipedia's explanation is that "liquid crystals are dissolved or dispersed into a liquid polymer followed by solidification or curing of the polymer," causing the crystals to form droplets randomly suspended in the solid polymer, which is one of several layers in a smart window. The material is naturally translucent until an electric current is applied, causing the liquid crystals to align, and allowing light to pass through the glass.
Most applications so far have been for large glass panels in windows or skylights. Display vendors, like Samsung in this demo at Consumer Electronics Show 2011, are using it in windows that also double as large display screens. In 2005, Nissan unveiled its Micra CC car in London, encasing it in a glass box made of 150 smartglass panels, which were programmed to change their transparency. A YouTube video shows the display in action.
With the magic morphing stuff your iPhone 6 "will look like one continuous slab of uninterrupted beauty," TechRadar assures us. You can see a preview of such a slab, and the reaction by iPhone lovers, in this video clip.
TechRadar is dazzled, but resignedly realistic. "This is some pretty serious, and awesome sounding, technology right here, and while we'd love to see in on the iPhone 6 in 2013, the reality is that it's probably a few years off being commercially viable."
iPhone 6: whatever it is, it better be "freaking amazing"
And, oh yes: "revolutionary."
"Hey Apple, Better Get Cracking on an Amazing iPhone 6," warns Chris Maxcer, at MacNewsWorld.
Don't get him wrong. He loves the iPhone 5. Well, sort of. That's because the iPhone 5 failed in one critical area: It didn't engender lust. "I want the iPhone 5 and I'll appreciate the iPhone 5, but lust? No way. That's the critical piece. Can Apple still create products that incite gadget lust?"
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