Technology is constantly evolving, and it seems as if every day something new is coming out. Keeping an eye on popular patent topics is a great way to watch for early developments in consumer technology. Lately, one of the biggest trends in the tech patent world is folding screens. From phones to computers, here are the latest folding technology patents and what they mean for our digital world.
Apple is arguably the most well-known name in the phone game, but they weren’t the first horses out of the gate in the race to produce foldable phones. Chinese tech company Huawei publicly announced their Mate X, as did Samsung with the Galaxy Fold phone. Samsung recently sent the Galaxy Fold to select reporters to test -- with detrimental results. Because of this gaffe, Huawei is delaying the launch of theirs to avoid a PR nightmare. Now that major companies are talking about foldable phone technologies, others are following suit. So how does Apple stack up in the race? Reports of a patent for a foldable iPhone have been released online, giving users a glimpse into the future. One display for the patent idea shows a phone folding vertically, while another shows the phone folding horizontally in half or even in thirds.
Foldable Laptop Screens
The laptop is arguably, already foldable. Laptops collapse in a compact folding manner through a hinge between the screen and keyboard. But you could argue the same thing with flip phones of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Bouncing off of the novelty of foldable phones, the newness of creating foldable laptops comes from the folding of the screen itself. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 features a full screen that bends in the center. A keyboard is yet to be configured into the device, but the company reportedly plans on taking its time to develop that aspect.
Where Will Folding Technology Take Us?
Does this folding tech trend have longevity? The idea for the foldable phone might seem like something new and revolutionary, but most think it will be just another fad. In the plethora of news outlets that have analyzed the Galaxy Fold’s disaster, these outlets point to other examples of failed future tech as a benchmark. Concepts that seemed revolutionary when they were announced (such as Google’s smart glasses or modular phones like Motorola’s Moto Z, which could have a detachable camera or speaker,) seemed exciting at first, but then fizzled out over time.
What will give these products true longevity is first and foremost, reliable function and then, ease of use for the everyday consumer. If these technology pieces can surpass those two important obstacles, folding tech may carry us into the future.
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