Apple earned a second patent for turning displays into speakers, leading to some interesting possible applications of the technology. While it could be used on the traditional LCD displays used for iPhones and iPads, the new patent may be applied to flexible OLED displays, making it possible for an Apple Watch to provide voice feedback and information.
The patent, spotted by Patently Apple, illustrates how a speaker coil and magnet underneath a flexible touchscreen display might work:
The flexible display may have an active area that is configured to display images to a user. Speaker membranes may be formed from the active portion of the flexible display. The display-based speaker structures may be driven by transducers that receive an electrical audio signal input from circuitry in the electronic device. Piezoelectric transducers or transducers formed from coils and magnets may be used to drive the display-based speaker structures.
At first thought, it may seem as if putting a speaker in something like the [company]Apple[/company] Watch wouldn’t be desirable. Having used smartwatches since 2012, though, I can see a benefit. As it stands now, I’m often glancing at my watch, currently a Sony Smartwatch 3, to read incoming messages, emails and such. There are times — such as when I’m driving — that that’s not ideal. Having the information read aloud, the way it it is on my smartphone when I’m behind the wheel, is a much safer solution.
The same applies when exercising, following turn-by-turn directions, or other times: Hearing the information could be more effective than looking at your wrist and scrolling down the screen as needed. Ideally, this would be an option, so your watch wouldn’t shout out the latest text message in the middle of a church service or other quiet time. But to have it, you need to fit more components in the already tight confines of a smartwatch, so using the display as a speaker is music to my ears.