Apple Patent Hints at Possible Hybrid Electronic Paper Display in iPhone

Patents are extremely interesting. They tend to show what a company’s capable of. We generally don’t get to see this in consumer products, as they are derived from marketing research and cost effectiveness calculations. But it would certainly be interesting to see all of the crazy ideas that get flung around Cupertino’s campus and never hit retail stores.

Luckily, Apple’s patent filings give us a glimpse of what they’ve been working on. Their latest filing, uncovered by Patently Apple, describes a display that can switch between high resolution color and electronic paper for reading books. This would certainly entice iDevice hold-outs that just couldn’t ditch their e-reader’s ink print…

The documents go into detail about the problem many electronic devices face. These products have only one display for outputting visual content. A traditional device may have a Liquid Crystal Display, while another may include an electronic paper display.

Typically, the type of display is chosen based on the content the device will be using the most. Obviously for reading e-books, the majority of the content is black and white, so electronic paper would be the most logical choice for a display. For internet browsing, a display that shows dynamic color content would be the best.

What if you want something that does both? Apple notes that the 2 types of display are vertically stackable. This means you can place one on top of the other. Not only that, but each one has the ability to make itself completely invisible, so you can see through to the 2nd screen. An electronic device would be able to analyze the content, and select the screen most optimal for the task.

Although certainly not needed, an electronic paper display would certainly be a welcomed addition to the iDevice lineup. Longer battery life and electronic ink print would certainly appeal to e-reader purchasers.

What do you think? Will we see electronic paper displays in future iDevices?