It’s no secret that Samsung wants to make more advanced flexible mobile devices in the future, including foldable smartphones. But such products require advanced manufacturing techniques that would guarantee the integrity of the product while it’s being bent.
Samsung, therefore, invented an artificial muscle whose mission, should it choose to accept it, would be to move the internal components and the screen of a flexible device in such a way that the hardware isn’t damaged.
First discovered by Korea News, the patents were filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The first one describes flexible components supposed to fold the display and other parts seamlessly. “A support member provided between the display panel and the image processing board and at least one artificial muscle connecting at least two plates” is what teardown experts might discover inside such products.
The muscle isn’t a real muscle, but acts like one. As ZDNet explains, it’s a set of small connected plates that are arranged in a matrix structure that will respond to bending movements when sensors detect them. At that point, the muscle will move with the force, moving the components it’s supposed to protect in the same direction in a correct, safe, movement.
A second patent describes a display panel made of two separate areas, which are connected by the muscle assembly described above. The display would be a top and bottom area, and would be user-bendable.
Apple has launched smartphones with curved and flexible displays so far, but those models were not bending-friendly. The company is rumored to launch at least one such new form factor device at some point next year.