Apple was recently granted two patents that could allow the company to develop technology that would make it difficult for snoopers to keep an eye on your iPhone or Mac. The novel screen technology could help protect information shown on a display by limiting the viewing angles of the display — this could replace the multipurpose screen protectors utilised by smartphone users that attempt to achieve the same result. The company has explored two methods of implementing the privacy features in its products.
Apple’s recently granted patent (via Apple Insider) refers to the use of a ‘privacy film’ that would be applied on curved displays in order to protect the contents of the screen from people in the vicinity. The document describes the use of a film with a light-blocking layer with opaque and transparent sections that is “interposed between the first and second transparent substrates”.
As a result, a display equipped with the privacy film would only show the contents of the screen clearly to users sitting in front of the display, while offering a distorted or blank view to other users who are trying to look at the screen. However, the contents of the screen will still be visible from certain angles, allowing people sitting behind the user to pry on their activity.
Apple’s second patent, published on November 21, discusses ‘displays with adjustable angles of view’. It describes the use of an angle-of-view layer comprised of adjustable light blocking structures created using electrochromic material interposed between the first and second layers of the display.
According to Apple, a display using this technology will allow users to apply a current to the first and second electrodes which will turn the electrochromic material opaque and block nearby viewers from being able to see what is on the screen. This process is reversible using an electric current to the same electrodes that will make the material more transparent and improve the viewing angles of the screen.
It is worth noting that Apple has been granted several patents and there is no indication that the company has plans to bring the new privacy protecting technology to its displays. The company is tipped to be working on making its wearable mixed reality headsets the successor to the iPhone over the next decade. These devices offer improved privacy as the virtual display is only visible to the person wearing Apple’s spatial computer.
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