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Apple awarded patent for display shock absorber

Posted: , by Alan F.

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Apple awarded patent for display shock absorber
Apple expanded its Intellectual Property portfolio last week when it received a patent for a display shock absorber. This is essentially a rubber coating that protects fragile components, like the glass display on the Apple iPhone, from getting damaged. The patent, number 8,248,777, is entitled "Viscoelastic Material for Shock Protection in an Electronic Device," and was applied for back in September 2008. Apple received the patent on Tuesday. The inventor on the patent is Christopher Prest although the patent has been assigned to Apple.

Diagram from Apple's patent application for a display shock absorber

Diagram from Apple's patent application for a display shock absorber

The rubber coating is expected to absorb the impact by changing its shape if a device is dropped or gets hit. While rubber is used on the Apple iPhone to absorb shocks, other elastic materials could be used as long as the elasticity is enough to protect fragile components in the case of a "large impact" such as a fall from a great distance. The material should also have viscous properties to protect the components from the shorter drops that happen more often. Going back to Apple's iconic smartphone, the rubber coating in the form of a thin bezel has been installed between the display and the phone's exterior bezel.

We all drop our phones and the first thing that we usually check after gingerly picking up the fallen handset is the screen. Anything that increases the survival rate of the display after a drop, no matter how large or small, is going to be appreciated by the cellphone using public.
"This invention is directed to reducing the effect of shocks on electronic device components. The electronic device component may be surrounded by a boundary element operative to deform in response to impacts. By deforming, the boundary element may be operative to absorb energy received by the shock or impact without passing the energy on to the electronic device component. To maximize the effectiveness of the boundary element over a range of different impacts (e.g., strong, instantaneous impacts and weak impacts over time), a viscoelastic material may be used. The characteristic properties of the viscoelastic material may be selected based on expected impacts to the electronic device component."-Abstract from Apple's patent
source: USPTO via AppleInsider

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posted on 21 Aug 2012, 11:40 26

1. frydaexiii (Posts: 1471; Member since: 01 Dec 2011)

The way apple applies for patents is fascinating, not because this isn't a good idea, no...It''s because it's just rectangle in a rectangle in another rectangle lol

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 12:53 13

10. Savage (unregistered)


posted on 21 Aug 2012, 13:09 4

13. Mxyzptlk (unregistered)

That doesn't add anything meaningful to the discussion.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 14:45

22. Ohrules (Posts: 327; Member since: 11 Jun 2012)

thanks for the laugh!

anyway guys, i have a question. Does it takes years for a patent to be approved? like in this example, the patent was filed in Sep 2008. I'm not an American, so i have no idea how the patent system works

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 16:53 6

25. tedkord (Posts: 13237; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)

I know you don't find the truth meaningful, but some of us do.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 11:47 8

2. MeoCao (unregistered)

useless invention, who needs this when there is unbreakable screen?

posted on 22 Aug 2012, 01:00 1

29. jroc74 (Posts: 6019; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)

Apple will need it. I dont think they will go with Samsung's flexible screen.

I think most phones might need this.

And what screen is unbreakable? Not Gorilla Glass. I have a Droid 1 and Droid X1 that says other wise. GG2? I doubt it if its that. No glass is unbreakable. Some are just harder to break.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 11:50 5

3. Cyan3boN (Posts: 446; Member since: 23 Feb 2012)

why would u need this patent when u use Gorilla glass apple!!

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 13:29 6

17. Mxyzptlk (unregistered)

Because Gorilla glass is tough but not unbreakable.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 11:52 2

4. SGSatlantis (Posts: 226; Member since: 20 Jul 2011)

"is going to be appreciated by the cellphone using public." Lol not if you are using Samsung.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 12:02 7

5. AndroidShiz (Posts: 154; Member since: 08 Nov 2011)

Since the current -almost all glass-iPhone breaks faster than any phone on the market right now when dropped, I could see how they'd need this.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 13:56 1

21. Lift_Off (Posts: 152; Member since: 04 Apr 2012)

You forgot about the SGS3...

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 12:08 4

6. gwuhua1984 (Posts: 1237; Member since: 06 Mar 2012)

I thought there was already something like this out...

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 12:42 3

7. jmoita2 (Posts: 930; Member since: 23 Dec 2011)

Great, they "patented" the Otterbox...lol

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 13:28 2

16. Mxyzptlk (unregistered)

Um otterbox is a case?

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 13:39 2

19. jmoita2 (Posts: 930; Member since: 23 Dec 2011)

As usual, Apple patents are so vague that yeah, they could basically apply it to any Otterbox type case out there.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 13:53 2

20. Berzerk000 (Posts: 4275; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)

This is a patent for a special display technology, not a case.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 23:59

28. anywherehome (Posts: 971; Member since: 13 Dec 2011)

invisible case.....Apple is so rotten that is able to sue everyone because it just "prevents cracking"

posted on 22 Aug 2012, 03:30

31. Berzerk000 (Posts: 4275; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)

You are taking this way out of hand. From what I understood, this is a rubber-like material that is to be placed where the bezel is, and that will change shape to prevent cracking. What Otterboxes do is protect the device by putting a layer (or two) of shock absorbing material around it, and raise the area that covers the bezel to keep the screen from touching the surface it's placed on. Otterbox cases are an accessory to protect your device.

I know Apple has been ridiculous with the lawsuits lately, but even they know that that will not be a valid case. Stop over-exaggerating.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 12:44 5

8. Jay_F (Posts: 236; Member since: 29 Nov 2011)

Gorilla glass isn't anywhere close to unbreakable. Especially GG2.

posted on 22 Aug 2012, 01:04

30. jroc74 (Posts: 6019; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)

Yea...at the most GG is scratch resistant. Thats it.

And that doesnt mean scratch proof...lol.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 12:51 5

9. shuaibhere (Posts: 1986; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)

Another patent in the monkey's hand.....

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 12:54 2

11. Savage (unregistered)

Does Christopher Prest work for Apple? If so, Apple deserves it.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 13:00 3

12. structureman116 (Posts: 141; Member since: 14 Sep 2010)

Wow...Viscoelastic material has been around since long before 2008, so why would you give Apple a patent for a material that is already in existence? Our patent system is seriously screwed up. Basically Apple has the right to wrap a cell phone screen with a mterial that has already been invented and call the idea their own! Reeeeeeeediculous!!!!!

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 15:14 3

23. tluv00 (Posts: 134; Member since: 18 Oct 2007)

It's not the actual material that they are patenting but how it's being used to protect the actual display.

One could probably patent the use of lungs as a device to convert Oxygen to Carbon Monoxide (or is it dioxide) and every person and living creature on the planet that does so would owe them. That is how stupid our patent office is.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 16:47 2

24. downphoenix (Posts: 3165; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)

Apple's got the patent pending for that right now, so they can sell their new iAir.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 13:10

14. Fuego84 (Posts: 351; Member since: 13 May 2012)

This just show how Apple prefers to stay outdated in technology. I mean everybody is moving in leaps and bounds in the display department working on flexible glass, or displays that bend while Apple places a rubber on there display and calls it protection. How much will this "innovation " cost consumers.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 13:27

15. JGuinan007 (Posts: 692; Member since: 19 May 2011)

It a good idea, until flexible displays are standard and thereis still a long way to go the ppi and picture quality still is not up to par with current nonflexible displays til then this is a pretty good solution the SG3 sure could have used this too bad Apple was given this patent oh well in about 3 years this patent will be usless anyway.

posted on 21 Aug 2012, 16:58 2

26. tedkord (Posts: 13237; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)

Ah, but you see, this patent specifically stated that the protection had to be flexible to absorb impacts. So, when the first flexible display comes out, Apple will sue, because they will claim this covers flexibility in displays.

After all, if a tap is just s zero length swipe, why wouldn't a flexible display be a zero screen coating?

posted on 22 Aug 2012, 03:40

32. Berzerk000 (Posts: 4275; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)

Not really... This uses a viscous elastic material (rubber essentially) by the bezel that changes shape to protect the display from impacts. As long as manufacturers don't use any rubber in the bezel, there shouldn't be any lawsuits with this. Flexible displays should be un-touchable by this patent, because with this patent it is essentially a rubber bezel around the display that changes shape, and not the display itself that is changing shape.

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