What an age we live in. Fresh off the high school glory days of producing flip phones, Motorola has patented a method that will consign the broken phone screen to the pages of history.
Years from now, when our children – grand or otherwise – look at our hands, they’ll ask, ‘what are all these scars, (grand) parental figure of mine?’
With eyes welling from memory of the nicks and the cuts, and the stinging sensation you felt pulling glass out from your supple hands once more running through our bodies, we’ll answer,
‘They’re from my phone, from many years ago.’
At which point your descendant will promptly lose all ability to believe anything you ever say. At least, that could very well be the case, if Motorola’s new patent comes to life.
The former tech giant, responsible for creating the first ever coolest-kid-on-the-block mobile phone – the Razr – has filed a patent for future devices to include a self-repair function, giving itself the ability to fix a damaged screen.
Or as the patent puts it, a ‘method and device for detecting fascia damage and repairing the same.’
Which really is all the explanation you could need.
Short of some Hogwarts inspired Reparo use, you’re probably at a loss for understanding just how such acts of muggle magic could be achieved.
It could happen through a number of methods, such as thermal elements being integrated into the screen, which would then heat up and repair cracks when activated.
‘One drawback to touch-sensitive displays is that they can be damaged,’ the patent explains, surprising no one.
‘Many displays or surface layers of modern electronic devices are manufactured from glass or plastic.’
‘Either of these materials is susceptible to deformation such as scratching, breakage or bending.’
With the mobile world well and truly having settled on touch screen devices, Motorola states that they believe it would be ‘more advantageous’ to have a device capable of fixing itself, rather than having the whole thing be replaced.
‘Even the most robust materials, like thermally tempered glass, can suffer deformation if the device is dropped, and once the display is damaged, the electronic device is often considered by the user to be unusable due to the fact that the primary users has become compromise.’
Those little shards of glass really hurt, too.
The process would be enabled by a corresponding app, which would analyse the damage done to the device, and direct heat to the specifically damaged area in order to remould it evenly and correctly.
Motorola proposes replacing a glass screen with a ‘shape memory polymer,’ a material that would allow the screen to reshape itself when exposed to heat.
In doing so, any cracks or scratches would be filled.
This process would be enabled by a corresponding app, which would analyse the damage done to the device, and direct heat to the specifically damaged area in order to remould it evenly and correctly.
Of course, without the gift of wizardry, such a technologically miraculous process will take a fair amount of time.
In response, the patent also details a docking station, which would provide power to the device as the repair took place.
Motorola isn’t the first company to explore the world of self-repairing smartphones. LG launched its G Flex model to Korea in 2013, which featured a ‘self-healing’ rear casing that could repair its scratches and abrasions.
But the model was not successful, and reviews criticized the device as only being able to withstand ‘small nicks,’ and no significant damage.
Getting the process right could be just what the company needs to re-capture the mobile scene.
The proposed self-repairing screen is just one of many attempts at innovating the ever-growing smart device market.
Google hoped to bring modular phones to the market with its Project Ara, which would have allowed customers to both repair and customise their own devices.
The project has since been abandoned, but Facebook has recently submitted its own patent for a modular device.
In the meantime, it should be remembered that no amount of heat will repair your current smart device’s screen, and that heating up anything with a highly explode-able battery in it is probably not a good idea.