Carriers have taken to offering speedy screen repairs as part of their device insurance programs. But a new patent from Motorola has the potential to make that offering obsolete.
As spotted by Dezeen, Motorola recently filed a patent application for a self-healing device screen.
Rather than using breakable glass or plastic, the patent calls for a display covered by a “shape memory polymer” that can identify deformations and “selectively apply heat” via an attachment to fix at least some of the damage.
“One drawback to touch sensitive displays is that they can be damaged,” Motorola’s application reads. “Once the display is damaged, the electronic device is often considered by the user to be unusable due to the fact that the primary user input has become compromised.”
But the shape memory polymer material the patent proposes, Motorola explained, “are stimuli-responsive materials” that can be “deformed and subsequently fixed into a temporary shape.” So when a device with a shape memory polymer display is scratched, for instance, Motorola said it would be possible to repair “some or all of the deformation and return to its original condition.”
Of course, theory is one thing – practical application is another.
As Dezeen noted, LG came up with something similar in 2013 in the form of its self-healing casing. But users pointed out the feature had limits as only minor bumps and bruises could be repaired.
So, will we see a self-healing phone from Motorola anytime soon? As with Apple’s bendable iPhone patents, it’s hard to say how long it will take – or even whether – the technology will make the leap from page to product. But we’ll be watching.