back to article Apple bags patent for folding phone that closes as it's dropped

If you're one of the small subset of Apple aficionados waiting to get their hands on a folding iDevice, a patent for self-folding displays granted to Cook and Co last week is sure to pique your interest. According to a patent [PDF] published on March 16, Apple hasn't just considered a foldable – it's considering a foldable …

  1. TVC

    Stick any phone to a cat and it will always land the right way up. Problem solved at zero cost.

    1. Bill Gray

      Tie a piece of bread, buttered side up, to the top of the cat, and you have a perpetual motion machine. Harness the resulting power, and the battery on your phone never dies.

      1. DS999 Silver badge
        Devil

        Good luck getting a phone attached to a spinning cat into your pocket to carry it around, and if you manage that you will probably end up with an unscheduled vasectomy. Or worse!

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Putting a cat in your pocket to make a perpetual motion machine would be silly, here's the sensible way to make a perpetual motion machine.

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Stick any phone to a cat and it will always land the right way up.

      I'd like to see you make a phone call with one of my cats stuck to the phone - most of them are, to a greater or lesser extent, ex-feral and don't really appreciate handling that they didn't initiate.

      And the one that is happy to be handled is about 7kg in weight.

      1. that one in the corner Silver badge

        > I'd like to see you make a phone call with one of my cats stuck to the phone

        If they share traits with every other cat I know, the problem wouldn't be one of my handling them: I'm allergic to cats, so sticking a phone onto a cat is a sure-fire way to get the phone as close to my face as the little buggers could manage!

  2. b.trafficlight

    It just shows how far patent system has deviated from its roots. It was supposed to protect inventors who invested a lot of time and money into developing something, so that others could not copy that invention and benefit from it. And now we get parents like this, where Apple claims merely an idea of an auto-closable screen. "oh yeah, maybe we'll use a spring, or magnets or something". It is not an invention. It didn't require years of research and prototyping, only 30 mins of engineers brainstorming with the patent lawyer. Sad and pathetic system which encourages such practice...

    1. I am David Jones

      The patent system is blind to the amount of effort involved in leading to an innovation, and imo rightfully so. Why should there be no protection for an invention following a eureka* moment ?

      How would you even begin to verify how much effort went into an invention?

      *I’m not saying this constitutes a eureka moment. As I noted elsewhere, this is a patent application that has not yet been examined for novelty and non-obviousness.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        I think the point is that anyone can have an idea. But it takes real work to actually implement it. If you want to "protect" your idea, don't tell anyone else about it. Go implement it[*]. The risk you take is that someone else may have already had the same idea or simply be better at implementing and beat you to punch. Tough. That's life.

        * It doesn't have to actually work fully or be a production model. But it should exist in the form you are describing before a patent can be granted IMHO.

        1. Matthew "The Worst Writer on the Internet" Saroff

          The point is that patents are not for IDEAS, they are for INVENTIONS. This is the former, not the latter.

          An invention should have concrete ways to execute.

          1. that one in the corner Silver badge

            Didn't there use to be a rule that a working model be submitted to the patent office?

            1. phuzz Silver badge

              Only in the US, and they stopped about 150 years ago.

  3. Richard 31
    Devil

    My oppo phone has its camera and torch on a pizza wedge that pops out the top. It auto retracts if the phone is dropped. It's actually the easiest way to switch off the torch if the screen has timed out...

  4. Howard Sway Silver badge
    Boffin

    gotta protect those screens somehow

    How about a little phone parachute that can deploy rapidly? Or an airbag system powered by compressed air canisters inside the phone?

    Please note, if no patents have yet been filed for these ideas, this post can be considered as prior art.

  5. martinusher Silver badge

    Not a particularly novel idea

    My phone, from a Chinese manufacturer who's name may not be spoken, has one of those pop up front facing cameras. It retracts when not being used and also if you drop the phone (and, yes, it works -- I tried it by dropping it onto a pillow).

    Folding the screen may be a bit tricky to implement -- its not that the 'we need to fold now' isn't difficult, that's obvious, but implementing this seamlessly could be difficult.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not a particularly novel idea

      They copied it after a tip-off from a mole inside Apple.

  6. VoiceOfTruth Silver badge

    The iSolution for people who hold their phone wrong(ly)

    The last time I thought about getting an iPhone I think was when the iPhone 6 was new. I handled it. The sides were way too smooth = easy to drop. Form over function. I don't think my impression was wrong as I recall seeing many iPhones with cracked screens. Meanwhile I have all my old Android phones, various makes, going back years with screens intact.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: The iSolution for people who hold their phone wrong(ly)

      Outer surfaces of phones are virtually irrelevant when almost all phones live inside protective cases.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: The iSolution for people who hold their phone wrong(ly)

        when almost all phones live inside protective cases

        This.

        I have a drawer at home full of ex-phones [1], almost all of which are in pretty much immaculate condition because I look after them.

        I even have a Motorla Star-tac phone, still in its leather belt-clip case[1]. The case is a bit battered but the phone inside is undamaged.

        [1] Yes kidies - it was trendy in the techie world then to clip our phones to our belts. Unbelievable but true!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Next up: iMousetrap?

    If you have a rapid closing mechanism, a camera and more computing power in a device than was used to get a few chaps safely to the moon and back, surely turning it into a mousetrap won't be that much of a further step?

    I think it's pretty much guaranteed that someone will write the app, even if it was just for a laugh :).

  8. I am David Jones
    Facepalm

    Beginner’s error

    Dear oh dear. This is not a patent it is a patent *application*, ie it has not been examined yet.

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: Beginner’s error

      It's going to the US Patent Office. They approve it and let the lawyers* sort it out.

      *The lawyers whose clients have the deepest pockets.

  9. bazza Silver badge

    Sapphire glass?

    Years ago Apple were thinking of cladding their phones in sapphire glass. They didn't, bankrupting the manufacturer (who'd already tooled up to be able to produce), because they realised that indestructible iPhones would not be profitable.

    However, I remember a YouTuber got hold of a prototype, and it was remarkably tough, and could be bent unbelievably without breaking.

    It was a bit stiff for a flexible display, but that's just a matter of how thin it is. So perhaps ultra thin sapphire is the answer for folding phones. It'd probably only break if it landed awkwardly on a diamond. Pity if that happened, but then you've got yourself a diamond!

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Sapphire glass?

      If I remember the case, the company that promised it could make the glass in the quantities needed was little more than a scam and that the SEC went after the directors

      https://www.engadget.com/2019-05-06-apple-sapphire-glass-supplier-charged-with-fraud.html?

  10. Medixstiff

    This is where the EU needs to grow a spine and say, US you idiots have been drinking too much brake fluid again, we do not recognize these patents as they are like the vast majority of your laws and politicians, stupid beyond belief.

  11. phuzz Silver badge
    Devil

    I'm imagining a scene where someone walks into a lift (elevator), chatting away on their new iPhone Foldable. They hit the button to go down, and as the lift accelerates downwards, the iPhone reacts to the drop, snapping shut on the user's ear like a mousetrap ;)

  12. jollyboyspecial Silver badge

    Can you patent an idea?

    This reads to me like Apple are trying to patent an idea. It doesn't look like they are anywhere near productising this, more like they are worried somebody else might be.

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