Patent granted: a MacBook display system that automatically moves its lid to keep it aligned with the user’s eyes using shape-memory alloys +

Today, the United States Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple a patent relating to MacBooks and laptop-like devices, and specifically to the hinge mechanisms of these devices. The patent describes a MacBook with a new hinge system that will automatically adjust the display, forward, backward or slightly sideways to ensure the ideal image on the screen remains aligned with the user’s eyes. using a form of eye tracking. The patent also addresses this new hinge system using “Shape Memory Alloy” materials which could also be applied to a future Magic Keyboard for iPad, iMac or TV.

Apple’s invention covers electronic devices with screens that are rotatably or movably coupled to another structure, such as a base, stand, or the like, and are configured to automatically adjust the position of the display relative to the other structure. The portable computer may include an actuation system that may automatically move the display portion relative to the base portion.

Automatic movement of the screen part of a laptop computer can be used to provide various useful functions. For example, the display portion may be automatically moved in an attempt to optimize or improve the quality of the graphical output as seen by a user.

More specifically, the angle from which a display is viewed by a user can affect the perceived graphical parameters of the display, such as brightness, contrast, color fidelity, etc. Accordingly, in an attempt to maintain the display at its optimum position relative to a viewer, a laptop computer can use the actuation system to automatically adjust the position of the laptop computer based on where the view is positioned relative to the laptop computer. In this way, the viewer can enjoy the best performance of the display without having to manually adjust the display continuously despite repositioning the laptop or the user himself.

As another example, the display portion of a laptop computer can be automatically moved to keep a subject (eg, a viewer’s face) within the field of view of a camera that is integrated into the display portion. ‘display.

More particularly, the display portions of portable computers may include cameras, which may be used to capture images of the user (eg, for video conferencing, image capture, etc.). As a result, the laptop computer can analyze the images captured by the camera and, based on the image analysis, automatically move the display part to try to keep the viewer’s face at a particular location in the captured image. In this way, the user can move naturally during videoconferences and other image capture operations without having to manually adjust the camera to maintain a target image frame.

An actuation system for the display portion of a portable computer (or other devices, as described herein) may use a shape memory alloy to provide the motive force to move the display portion.

Shape memory alloy (SMA) materials change shape (e.g. expand or contract) depending on their temperature. So, for example, an electric current or an electric signal applied to an SMA material can heat the SMA material, thereby causing the SMA material to change its shape. Allowing the SMA material to cool (either through passive cooling or active cooling) can also cause the SMA material to change shape. Therefore, by controlling the temperature of the SMA material, the actuation system can cause the display portion of the laptop computer to move in an intended direction.

Devices other than laptops can also benefit from automatic display actuation systems and operations. For example, desktop computer monitors (and/or desktop computers integrated into a monitor enclosure) may be supported by brackets that allow the monitors to move relative to the brackets. As another example, tablet computers can be removably coupled to stands or other accessories that support the tablet computer in a vertical orientation in a manner similar to a laptop computer. These types of devices can also benefit from a system that can move displays based on information about the user’s position, location, direction of gaze, etc. For example, the display may be automatically positioned in an attempt to optimize display performance (as perceived by the user), to keep the user in the field of view of an integrated camera, or similar.

In Apple’s patent FIG. 2A below we see an example showing a MacBook #200 being used by a user (#208). The MacBook includes a display part (#202) movably coupled to a base part (#204). As shown in Fig. 2A, the target viewing vector (#206) of the display is not directed at the user’s eyes, but rather points above the user’s head. In this configuration, therefore, the user may not experience the best display performance (eg, maximum or target visual characteristics of the display).

In Apple’s patent FIG. 2B below we see how the display part can be moved (e.g. rotated) relative to the base part (as shown by arrow #210) to make the target viewing vector point directly at the eyes of the user. Here, movement of the display portion may be automatic, and may be in response to the MacBook determining that the display portion is not positioned in an ideal or desired position relative to the user.

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In Apple’s patent FIG. 6B below we see a new feature of the MacBook display that can pivot or rotate on its hinge in order to achieve a target viewing angle and/or direct the viewing vector of the display portion towards the eyes of a user; FIG. 7A illustrates the MacBook using a shape memory alloy (SMA) that helps the lid and screen move in a way that targets a user’s face.

3 patent fig apples

Apple’s patent FIG. 8A below illustrates a #800 MacBook with a #806 multi-part hinge mechanism movably coupling a #802 display part to a #804 base part; FIG. 8B is a partial sectional view of the MacBook seen along line AA in FIG. 8A. The hinge mechanism may include #818 bearings and #820 spacers. The roller elements are engaged with (eg, in contact with) the curved surfaces of the spacers and are configured to rotate along the curved surfaces of the spacers. The relative movement between the roller elements and the spacer elements allows the hinge mechanism to articulate so that the display part can move relative to the base part. #808 actuation systems can be integrated with the hinge mechanism to provide the driving forces to move the display part.

4 patent figs

Apple’s patent FIG. 15 above is a redesigned Magic Keyboard with a new flexible hinge as shown for the MacBook in FIGS. 8A and 8B.

Apple’s patent FIG. 13 below depicts an iMac, stand-alone display, or TV with an actuation system using shape-memory alloy materials.

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5 apple patent fig

In addition, device 1300 also includes optical sensing system #1301 (e.g., camera, biometric sensing system, light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensor, or the like).

The device may also include an actuation system, which may include an SMA material element, an electric motor, or the like, which may move display portion #1302 relative to base portion #1304. These movements can be made in order to reorient the display to provide an ideal target or viewing condition, or to keep an object within the frame or field of view of the 1301 Optical Sensing System (for example, during videoconferences or other image capture functions) .

For details, see Apple granted patent 11,353,933.

10.52FX - Patent Bar Granted

About Raymond A. Bentley

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