Apple patent details intelligent hybrid e-paper/video displays for iOS devices

An Apple patent published today describes “a next generation iPhone that would effectively offer us a smart hybrid display that could switch between a standard LCD and an e-Paper display,” Jack Purcher reports for Patently Apple.

“In fact, it’s so smart that the display could actually subdivide itself into quadrants that could intelligently switch display types depending on the content that the user is running,” Purcher reports. “That would work very nicely with Apple’s proposed use of Spaces on future iOS devices.”

Purcher reports, “Apple patent covers systems and methods for switching between an electronic paper display and a video display based on at least one feature of visual content. According to Apple, control circuitry in an electronic device could analyze visual content to determine one or more features of the visual content.”

Read more in the full article here.


  1. I would love a way to switch to an e-ink display on iPad. I do a lot of reading for grad school and try to buy all of my books electronically now, so I don’t have to carry around physical books. As much as I love my iPad and reading on my iPad, I have considered buying a kindle simply for the e-ink feature. After hours of reading on my iPad, I do notice eye fatigue from reading on the LCD display.

    1. @ MacMoore. Interesting point. My wife just starting getting books from the public library on her iPod nano and LOVES it because she reads on her cab ride to work when it’s dark in the cab. We’re thinking of an iPad. You’re comment now makes me wonder if I should wait. On the other hand, how many consecutive hours a day are you reading on the iPad?

  2. The fact that you could split the screen in quanddrants must mean Apple’s Spaces. Otherwise, why would Apple go through the trouble of switching between epaper and lcd? It makes sense, if it’s Spaces. This way a group of books, like for students, could remain in e-paper mode.

  3. The Kindle is much easier on the eyes. Their ads are currently correct in that regard. I’m happy to see this future development from Apple. It’s needed.

  4. Whenever I try a Kindle, etc. I’m extremely annoyed by the way it refreshes: everything goes dark, then light, then displays the new page. This happens slowly enough to notice. It also is not black on white, but rather light-gray on dark-gray. I spend almost all my time looking at LCD displays at work and home and don’t feel like my eyes are strained. Finally, I enjoy reading at night without having to turn on a light and disturb my bedmate.

  5. OMG! THIS THE FUTURE! Those guys are so amazing in Apple – they just figure out the best most creative way of take the current tech and hybridizing it – this is going to be beautiful to see – and you thought Retina display was all that! I’m sure it’s ridiculously power saving as well.

  6. I’ve read 3 books on my iPhone 4 so far. The retina display is so easy on the eyes that e-paper might not be necessary. Is the purpose of this to improve battery life or screen reflectiveness?

  7. If it happens, I will be one step closer to giving up on traditional books. Right now I am using iPad 2 for all my news – WSJ, The Economist, iPad versions of papers from my home country. However, I am still not willing to stop reading traditional books, to some extent because of the feel, but mainly because 1-3 hours of constant reading on iPad is not as good experience as it should have been. Retina + e-ink and I might be sold.

    Also, it would be amazing because of the weight drop. Right now one of the books I carry around is twice as heavy as the iPad…

    1. @jjklhhjkl

      PixelQi displays suck at playing video. Washed out colour and tearing due to poor frame updates. This solution won’t have that problem.

      1. No it won’t. It won’t have any problem because right now it’s just on paper and doesn’t exist in the real world.

        At least PixelQi is on the market. And it will get better.

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