Apple files new flex screen with force detection patent

A flexible display from Apple could be a part of the future, as evidenced by the company's latest patent application, published by the US Patent & Trademark Office.

The patent, dubbed "Embedded Force Measurement," focuses on an interactive touchscreen that reacts to the pressure of your touch. Integrating the technology directly into certain applications, like Apple's GarageBand, for example, allows for a more realistic approach, wherein users can press the keys harder or tap the drumsticks more softly to get a different sound.

Additionally, an onscreen volume icon could provide different experiences based on the amount of pressure applied — hold down lightly on one side to adjust the volume slowly, or press harder on the other side to move the bar more quickly.

The patent tips a possible flex-screen smartphone, but could be utilised for any sort of media player, personal data organiser, handheld games console, or camera, Apple's patent said. A force detection layer could be deployed on top of or within a flexible display, turning the technology into a secondary form of input while still allowing normal touchscreen capabilities.

Without specifically mentioning it in the patent, Apple makes room for the possibility that this input system, which would be ideal for small form factor devices, may be put to use in the rumoured iWatch, Apple Insider pointed out.

This is not the first flexible display patent Apple has pursued. A patent unveiled in November would allow Apple's Smart Cover to double as an additional screen. A March patent, meanwhile, pointed to a curved-display smartphone with expanded screen real estate.

Flexible displays were at the top of the charts at this year's CES, where Samsung talked up its own technology, called Youm, and showed off a prototype that allows the screen to be bent back and forth with ease.