Apple files patent for ‘disappearing iPhone’ where camera, flash and even the screen vanish when not in use

“Apple has filed an application to patent a new technology that could make some features of a device literally disappear when they are not being used,” Damien Gayle reports for The Daily Mail.

“The technology, which could herald a new era in gadget design, could be used to hide your iPhone’s camera, flash, or even its entire display until they are needed,” Gayle reports. “It would use switchable curtains made possible by polymer-dispersed liquid crystal (PDLC) windows to conceal the functions, giving feature packed phones or tablets a clean, uncluttered appearance.”

Gayle reports, “This technique could even be used to hide a facial-recognition camera right behind a device’s display, making it visible and active only when a picture of the user’s face is needed for an online identity check.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Edward W.” for the heads up.]


  1. Will the tech work on companies, too…so Gurgle, Dingdong and M$ would only appear when needed?

    Oh, wait, once cloaked, would they ever be needed again?

    Virtually, this tech may make it seem like Apple applied the it to them!

    1. No. I wouldn’t get too excited. Apple files tons of patents that don’t turn into products. There’s really no choice. If an idea seems reasonable and you don’t patent it, somebody else will.

      The system needs an overhaul, seems to me.

      1. False. You have to have a working prototype to file a patent. You can’t just patent ideas.

        Every person who thinks the system needs an overhaul that I’ve seen is fundamentally ignorant of what patents are and how the system works– like you!

        1. I assume by your name you get to wear one of those snazzy train-drivin’ hats. I know it’s fun to call people ignorant, especially on the internet, but before you do it’s a good idea to spend two minutes searching just to make sure, oh ya know, that you’re not the ignorant one.

          Or perhaps you’re a time traveller from 1879, which is the last year the working prototype requirement was in effect.

          So I presume now that you will come back and retract what you wrote. Train schedule permitting, of course.

          1. Now that your screed has come to an end, prepare to be educated:


            1. Lacking knowledge or awareness in general; uneducated or unsophisticated.

            2. Lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about something in particular: “ignorant of astronomy”.

            You see, one definition is an insult and the other is not. If you are pointing out a specific area in which someone is demonstrably shown to lack knowledge, it is perfectly reasonable to call out their ignorance of the topic.

            Which is exactly what happened.

            You lose as a result of being ignorant of the subtleties of the English language.

            1. I suggest “delusional” for the name you use for your next post, as you ignore your factual errors and assertions and somehow convince yourself that you know of which you speak.

  2. The entire surface of the device could be opaque with any color or pattern you want. The colors and patterns could change depending on your mood (it would capture it from biometric sensors) or what kind of music you are playing. When you need to interact with the device the applicable surfaces come to life.

  3. This is actually a brilliant idea if the tech works well and truly obscures the fact that there are specific components under portions of the screen/device when they are not in use.

    What this will allow is maintaining sleek and smaller form factors while still being able to add features. One of the first things I thought about when people were rumoring that the iPhone 5 may have a biometric scanner was how they were going to be able to place it on the phone without sacrificing the design aesthetic.

    I realize that a lot of people (read: Android users) don’t really care about design, and would be satisfied if the inclusion of a thumbprint scanner meant that the device had to be wider or, simply required that the scanner was place asymmetrically on the front of the device (like next to the home button). Thankfully, Apple does not think this way, and it is one of the many things that makes them the best at what they do.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.