Apple patent reveals idea for "displays with openings"

iPhone 11 Pro
iPhone 11 Pro (Image credit: Rene Ritchie/iMore)

What you need to know

  • An Apple patent reveals idea for "display with openings".
  • It would allow components to be housed within an OLED screen.
  • It could eliminate the infamous notch on iPhone.

A patent filed by Apple has revealed how the company is exploring the possibility of housing components within the confines of an OLED display, possibly eliminating the need for housing and maximizing the screen area of a device. The patent, picked up by Apple Insider is titled "Electronic devices having displays with openings".

The patent is fairly self-explanatory and is made possible by OLED's self-illuminating pixels, which don't need to be backlit, making cutouts to house components much easier to insert compared to an LCD screen. Essentially, components found on the front of your display (camera, microphone, speaker, etc.) could be housing in gaps between pixels in the OLED display, as per the diagram below.

Depending on what kind of component is being housed, color filter material could be used to block/transmit certain types of light to prevent interference, for example with the front-facing TrueDepth camera array. Perhaps the most interesting feature is the potential for a Touch ID button that works through a display, as Apple Insider notes:

It is also suggested the technique could be used to enclose an interior cavity featuring a light sensor and an overlapping display. The display would include a "light-transmitting window" interposed between pairs of pixels, with light reflected to the light sensor.

As always, it's worth noting that Apple files thousands of patents, many of which may never see the light of day. However, as device makers look to maximize the size of their screens, the idea of a display that could house components between its pixels is certainly an enticing look into the future.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9