Earlier this month, the Patent and Trademark Office published a new patent application from Apple that may be the bearer of bad news for your iPhone. The application, submitted by Apple, offers insight into technology the company has developed that will tell you when your glass cover screen is cracked.
Hold that thought.
You eyes (and your fingers) can already tell when your screen is cracked, right? And the cracks usually appear immediately after impact. Nothing worth patenting yet. But the technology promises to identify microscopic cracks that are present in the cover glass that could open up the next time your phone hits the ground.
The information is useful to designers and engineers, who are always looking for a better way to build phones that don’t crack in the first place. The application also indicates that the iPhone in your pocket already has crack-detecting technology on board. What?!
According to the patent application, the iPhone display already detects changes in the integrity of the cover glass. The technology is mentioned because it can be enhanced with a layer of sensors that can perform assessments on the health of the cover glass. Combined with other technology already in the phone – like accelerometers and piezoelectric vibrators– could perform automated diagnostics on the phone following a detected impact.
This kind of detection would be critical for the iPhone 8, which is rumored to be covered –front and back – with glass. An all-glass iPhone would (in theory) be doubly at risk for cracked glass, since the entire product is glass covered.
The prospect that your phone could detect traumatic damage and tell you about it before it affects the performance of the device is both exciting and frightening. Sometimes when you drop your phone and nothing happens, you just want to feel good about being lucky. With this technology, you might find out how fragile your phone really is.
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Photo Credit: Hakan Dahlstrom, via Flickr.com