Apple has filed for a patent (number 20200393881) for “structural thermal solutions for display devices” that shows it wants the rumored “Apple Glasses” — an augmented reality/virtual reality head-mounted display (HMD) to be comfortable and cool when worn.
In the paten filing, Apple notes that certain display panels, such as OLED and uOLED panels, for example, can operate at high temperatures. In known systems, such as wearable HMDs, for example, display panels are usually supported by a carrier, bezel, or other such structure, which is often formed from a lightweight material (e.g., plastic) to reduce the overall weight of the systems.
However, these structures offer little benefit in terms of thermal regulation. Without proper cooling and heat dissipation, the panels (which Apple says are expensive and difficult to replace) can degrade over time, often resulting in irreparable damage or system failure. To manage and offset the heat generated by the panels during use, and thereby increase their usable life, display systems will often incorporate additional components, such as heat sinks. These additional components, however, create design challenges and add to the overall weight of the systems.
Apple’s patent filing addresses these challenges by providing a display system that integrates thermal solutions into structural components. The tech giant says this combined functionality not only reduces the overall number of components, complexity, and weight of the display system, but increases thermal conductivity and improves thermal management to decrease operating temperatures and extend the system’s usable life.
Here’s the summary of the invention: “A display system, such as a wearable display device, includes a system housing including a cavity having a linear axis extending generally in parallel with first and second side walls enclosing the cavity and a display stack enclosed within the cavity and movable along the linear axis.
“The display stack includes a display panel and a support chassis configured to support a first side of the display panel and thermally couple the display panel to the first side wall to facilitate heat transfer from the display panel, across the support chassis, and to the system housing The display stack includes a heat sink configured for support by a second side of the display panel and to thermally couple the display panel to the second side wall to facilitate heat transfer from the display panel, across the heat sink, and to the system housing.”
When it comes to Apple Glasses, such a device will arrive next year or 2022, depending on which rumor you believe. It will be a head-mounted display. Or may have a design like “normal” glasses. Or it may be available in both. The Apple Glasses may or may not have to be tethered to an iPhone to work. Other rumors say that Apple Glasses could have a custom-build Apple chip and a dedicated operating system dubbed “rOS” for “reality operating system.”