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Apple Patents LCD Screen That Plays Nice with Sunglasses

A new patent application surfaced at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office entitled “Display that Emits Circularly-Polarized Light” and discovered by AppleInsider today points at a new kind of LCD screens capable of playing nice in outdoor viewing when an iPhone or iPad user is wearing sunglasses to protect himself from harmful UV rays. The problem with polarized sunglasses – not necessarily LCD screens exposed to directly sunlight, something Apple’s own displays have long been criticized due to poor performances when compared to the Amazon Kindle – is that they “only allow through light with an electric field that vibrates in the vertical direction”, and considering current LCD displays have an electric field that vibrates in one direction, the user wearing polarized sunglasses may see distorted images when looking at the screen from certain angles. Polarized sunglasses and LCDs don’t play nice together, and Apple’s proposed solution is aimed at building an LCD display that, with circularly polarized light, allows sunglasses to not see black areas, distorted images, and so forth.

The layer receives the linearly-polarized light on one surface, converts the linearly-polarized light to circularly-polarized light, and then emits the circularly-polarized light from another surface,” the application reads. “By emitting circularly-polarized light, the display reduces the perceived distortion found at some angles when the display is viewed through a linearly-polarizing filter.

The patent design seems to suggest Apple might get around the problem of iOS devices used outdoors assuming people generally tend to wear sunglasses in direct sunlight. The patent credits John Z. Zhong, Wei Chen, Cheng Chen, Victor H.E. Yin, and Shawn R. Gettemy as inventors.

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