Johannesburg - Smartphones have evolved to replace digital cameras, video and voice recorders. But they could soon also replace laptops, judging by patents that have been filed of late.
In the next 24 months consumers could see a smartphone with a bendable display that transforms into a laptop or tablet – this is if patents filed by numerous manufacturers are anything to go by.
Most recently, South Korean giant Samsung, marred by reports of exploding smartphones, secured a patent for the design of a 'foldable' device that opens and closes similar to a book.
In the design patent, the manufacturer has described a unit with a spine of a flexible electronic connection joining two pieces, likely to house an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) on the inside or outside of the unit.
Smartphone patent reporting website, patentlymobile.com, has said that the electronics manufacturer was granted the patents for two distinct folding smartphone designs by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
“The first patent is a utility patent that describes a completely new component that they simply call the flexible electric connection that both powers and controls both displays to work with Android so that a user could multitask with two different display panels displaying different content or apps,” the website said.
“The second granted patent is for another foldable smartphone design, except this time the fold isn't evenly proportioned and adds a clear component that allows the user to view a large lip area that exposes either app icons or live alerts of incoming email or text messages,” the website went further to say.
In relation to Samsung securing the patent, Microsoft has also filed a patent for a smartphone which can be unfolded into a tablet.
The abstract in the patent filed describes the unit as featuring “techniques involving a mobile computing device having a flexible hinge structure are described.”
“In one or more implementations, a mobile computing device includes a plurality of housings, a display device that is flexible, and a flexible hinge structure.”
“The flexible hinge structure secures the plurality of housings to each other, permits the plurality of housings to rotate about an axis in relation to each other, and supports a continuous viewing area of the display device that extends across the plurality of housings and the flexible hinge structure,” the patent read.
More indications that foldable displays could be the future of smartphones were from Lenovo which has prototypes of smartphones that snap on the users wrist like a watch and. The devices - which open up similar to descriptions in patents filed by Samsung and Microsoft – were unveiled by the Chinese manufacturer last year.
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