Apple was granted a patent Tuesday for a method of embedding light sensors directly onto a device’s display, according to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.
This patent, which is dubbed No. 9,466,653, could be an important step toward Cupertino making a bezel-less, edge-to-edge iPhone. As noted in the patent, ambient light-sensing systems are typically separate from a device’s display — and while this makes producing a phone easier, it leads to wasted space, according to the patent.
Indeed, Cupertino is reportedly seeking to do away with this design by proposing implementing light sensors directly onto display layers — layers that already have the conductivity needed to power such sensors, according to AppleInsider. The patent has a few figures that show possible configurations of the technology — one that shows light-sensing sensors placed above the touch-sensitive display layer, and another showing the sensors integrated next to the touch-sensitive layer.
The end result is a new way to embed these light sensors — which the iPhone uses to detect ambient light levels in the environment. But the patent could also have other applications — Apple writes that this technology could also be used for “a proximity sensor, or any other sensor,” the patent reads.
And this isn’t the first patent that seems to point to an edge-to-edge iPhone. Just last week, Apple was granted a patent that focused on a method of integrating a fingerprint sensor directly into a device’s display. While these patents don’t exactly prove that a bezel-less iPhone is what Apple is striving for, they do certainly seem to hint at it. The top and bottom bezels on current iPhone models house the device’s Home Button, Touch ID, speaker, camera and light sensors, according to MacRumors.
But to get there, the company still needs to focus on how to implement the front-facing camera and the speaker into an iPhone that doesn’t have a bezel. Rumor has it that Cupertino’s next flagship — the 2017 iPhone — will have an edge-to-edge display, so whatever the case may be, Apple will figure it out sooner rather than later.