Apple looking to improve screen visibility when outdoors and wearing sunglasses

Apple has applied for another patent this week which is entitled “Display that emits circularly-polarized light”. What this means to us is that we may see improved viewing experiences on our iPhones and iPads if this technology makes it to future devices.

If you have tried viewing your iPhone outside in sunlight, it is a good experience however the iPad is not good at all. Put a pair of sunglasses on and the whole experience becomes nearly unusable. With this patent application, Apple is proposing a liquid-crystal display that reduces perceived distortion when viewed through linear polarizing filters; or in other words, sunglasses!

The layer receives the linearly-polarized light on one surface, converts the linearly-polarized light to circularly-polarized light, and then emits the circularly-polarized light from another surface," the application reads. "By emitting circularly-polarized light, the display reduces the perceived distortion found at some angles when the display is viewed through a linearly-polarizing filter. The invention would allow for superior outdoor viewing of displays, like iPhone or iPad screens, by reducing perceived distortion created when a user wears sunglasses.

There is no doubt that this is a well needed addition to any device with a screen that needs to be read outdoors. If the iPad is to be taken seriously as an eReader as well as all of its other features, it has to improve its outdoor viewing experience. Patents like this show Apple are working to do just that!

[Apple Insider]


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UK editor at iMore, mobile technology lover and air conditioning design engineer.

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Reader comments

Apple looking to improve screen visibility when outdoors and wearing sunglasses


YOU can see your phone in the sun?? All I see is a black screen. And, I wish the bloggers on here would stop using Apple's catch words. You used the word "experience" FOUR times in this post. My "experience" is that this thing is useless outside. I always have to find some shade to read a txt / email.

This is a defensive patent and it's nearly useless, since it assumes that the user is wearing polarized sunglasses, which the vast majority of users don't. Besides, angle of polarization varies from sunglass to sunglass, so you would have to tilt your head to find the right angle to read.

I normally have no problem reading my iPhone 4's screen out in direct sunlight; even when I wear polarized shades, and with my brightness turned down a bit (to save battery life). Sometimes I have to wait a few seconds for my auto-brightness to kick in just when I really start to need it, but it's not that big a deal. Of course, I'd welcome any improvements Apple will make to the screens on all their iDevices.

I'm in central park right now with my sunglasses on and an iPhone4.. I have no idea what I just finish reading or what I'm typing.

I don't take my iPad out of its hermetically sealed Carbonite lock box just for pool reading. I use analog devices for that. Or I just go swimming.