Apple has filed a patent for a “display with adjustable angles-of-view.” It outlines a concept for increased privacy when viewing a mobile or tablet screen using a backlit screen with adjustable lenses made up of liquid crystal and an electrically controllable filter, to selectively polarize a screen.
The new technology will restrict people from viewing the device from other angles, thus raising the privacy bar without cutting back on color accuracy and brightness of the screen for the viewer. It primarily narrows the display’s viewing angle, with the adjustable lens arrays modifying backlight illumination. This extra layer of the liquid crystal may have a color filter that can hide or include images on the screen in particular colors.
It is compatible with iPhone and iPad, and Apple hasn’t limited the technology to iOS and Mac devices. Instead, the patent covers all possible displays that require privacy mode – wrist watches, a pendant, and even headphones.
The approach is to have an integrated system technology in the screen with a layer of liquid crystal material in between. Previously, an LED screen was used to narrow viewing angles, but the new technology will be inbuilt and will reduce color accuracy and the overall brightness of the screen from other angles, allowing only the user to view what is showing on their device.
Apple does have iPhone privacy protectors but it is currently an add-on, whereas the company is looking for embedded technology that will narrow the viewing angle. The new technology will mask only the required screen, unlike an add-on that masks the entire screen.
While quite a few devices are designed to display images at wider angles of view to accommodate the viewer’s movements, Apple says it is not always safe to have a wider view, especially in public, as it compromises privacy.
The patent was filed last year but it was only recently made public by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. It is still unclear if the privacy technology will be implemented in the upcoming iPhone 8. That’s not very likely, since the new flagship device is already said to be in pre-production stage. Besides, such a technology has to also be supported at the operating system level, and we’ve yet to see any evidence of such a feature with iOS 11.