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Apple receives patent for flexible displays

(Tech News) Apple was granted a patent that will allow them to incorporate flexible displays into future product releases.

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Apple scores a big patent

Yesterday, Apple was granted a new patent, according to the AppleInsider. It details various mechanisms that will potentially be used with flexible displays. These mechanisms may replace components, such as physical buttons, with more durable alternatives. It could also create alternate ways of detecting sound and providing feedback.

The patent describes, in detail, how a flexible display can be used to enhance existing products at length; including placing flexible material over each individual existing component to create new buttons on an “as needed” basis. This could also be applied to the existing iPhone Home button: you would still be able to access it, but it would give you the feel of a continuous surface, rather than the Home button being separate.

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The flexible material would also protect it from damage, as well as help assimilate it into the rest of the screen. According the to AppleInsider, “In some embodiments, the system combines a flexible display layer, such as a compatible OLED substrate, with a similarly flexible capacitive touchscreen layer, which is then covered by a flexible or rigid cover. As the assembly is flexible, users can interact with components installed beneath.” It could also feature haptics: or localized vibrations and sound.

Interesting… sound familiar?

By assimilating the buttons into one cohesive screen, Apple could have the ability to expand screen size, without worrying about button placement. Buttons could also be revealed as needed by embedding them under the display layer and allowing them to push through the screen to create bumps. Sound familiar? It is a bit like the current Tactus keyboard; which creates a keyboard from a transparent cover. Since this technology already exists on some level, it’s a bit unclear as to how Apple was granted this patent, but nonetheless it is pretty innovative, just not original.

The patent also seems to focus on mobile devices like iPhone and iPad, but there does seem to be some provisions for MacBook. The theory for using flexible material on the MacBook is centered around the trackpad. The material would alter its surface and put some space between the bottom and lid, allowing it to open, possibly, without the currently existing grove.

Although this technology is unlikely to be included in the next iPhone release, it is within the realm of possibility for the very near future, especially given space is limited in mobile devices and flexible tech will allow the integration of more features in a smaller space.

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. rolandestrada

    August 28, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    I’m always amused when these reports pop up for flexible displays, buttonless phones, wraparound displays and haptic feedback. The one that is always a crackup is the wraparound display because nobody ever mentions what happens when you try to put a case on such a device. It’s easy to tear down all the notions I mentioned in this paragraph once you get past the wiz-bang and delve into the impracticality of the ideas.

    Apple has patents that have never seen the light of day. I will say that flexible screen patents can be used in future Apple wearables.

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Tech News

Chatbots: Still useful, or ready to be retired from your site?

(TECH NEWS) Chatbots have proven themselves to be equally problematic as they are helpful – is it time to let them go the way of the floppy disk?

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Man texting chatbots leaning against a brick wall.

All chatbots must die. I’d like to say it was fun while it lasted, but was it really?

I understand the appeal, truly. It’s a well established 21st century business mantra for all the side hustlers and serial entrepreneurs out there: “Automation is the key to scaling.” If we can save time, labor, and therefore money by automating systems, that means we have more time to build our brands and sell our goods and services.

Automation makes sense in many ways, but not all automation tools were created equal. While many tools for automation are extremely effective and useful, chatbots have been problematic from the start. Tools for email marketing, social media, internal team communication, and project management are a few examples of automation that have helped many a startup or other small business kick things into high gear quickly, so that they can spend time wooing clients and raising capital. They definitely have their place in the world of business.

However promising or intriguing chatbots seemed when they were shiny and new, they have lost their luster. If we have seen any life lesson in 2020, it is that humans are uniquely adept at finding ways to make a mess of things.

The artificial intelligence of most chatbots has to be loaded, over time, into the system, by humans. We try to come up with every possible customer-business interaction to respond to with the aim of being helpful. However, language is dynamic, interactive, with near infinite combinations, not to mention dialects, misspellings, and slang.

It would take an unrealistic amount of time to be able to program a chatbot to compute, much less reply to, all possible interactions. If you don’t believe me, consider your voice-activated phone bot or autocorrect spelling. It doesn’t take a whole lot to run those trains off the rails, at least temporarily. There will always be someone trying to confuse the bots, to get a terse, funny, or nonsensical answer, too.

Chatbots can work well when you are asking straightforward questions about a single topic. Even then, they can fall short. A report by AI Multiple showed that some chatbots were manipulated into expressing agreement with racist, violent, or unpatriotic (to China, where they were created) ideas. Others, like CNN and WSJ, had problems helping people unsubscribe from their messages.

Funny, shocking, or simply unhelpful answers abound in the world of chatbot fails. People are bound to make it messy, either accidentally or on purpose.

In general, it feels like the time has come to put chatbots out to pasture. Here are some helpful questions from azumbrunnen.me to help you decide when it’s worth keeping yours.

  1. Is the case simple enough to work on chatbot? Chatbots are good with direct and short statements and requests, generally. However, considering that Comcast’s research shows at least 1,700 ways to say “I want to pay my bill,” according to Netomi, the definition of “simple enough” is not so simple.
  2. Is your Natural Language Processor capable and sophisticated enough? Pre-scripted chatbots are often the ones to fail more quickly than chatbots built with an NLP. It will take a solid NLP to deal with the intricacies of conversational human language.
  3. Are your users in chat based environments? If so, then it could be useful, as you are meeting your customers where they are. Otherwise, if chatbots pop up whenever someone visits your website or Facebook page, it can really stress them out or turn them off.

I personally treat most chatbots like moles in a digital whack-a-mole game. The race is on to close every popup as quickly as possible, including chatbots. I understand that from time to time, in certain, clearly defined and specific scenarios, having a chatbot field the first few questions can help direct the customer to the correct person to resolve their problems or direct them to FAQs.

They are difficult to program within the expansiveness of the human mind and human language, though, and a lot of people find them terribly annoying. It’s time to move on.

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This tool is your ‘hack’ to a simultaneous live stream across platforms

(TECH NEWS) Ever wondered how companies host a live stream simultaneously across multiple social media platforms? Restream is your trick to doing the same.

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Man in front a red smartphone on a stand, setting up for a live stream.

Distributing live content on various platforms helps build your brand presence and grow your audience. But, how do you get that broadcast to live stream to several platforms simultaneously? And, how are other content creators doing it?

Well, the answer to both of these questions is — Restream Studio.

With this tool, you can stream live video to over 30 platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn, all at once.

You can also be the host of your own show and invite guests to join your live streams. And, even increase your brand awareness by slapping your logo on your live video.

So, how does Restream work?

First, you register on the website and connect your platform accounts. When you’re ready to stream, add two or more social media channels to your Restream Dashboard. Then, press start on your stream. You can stream using your webcam from a browser or your choice of streaming software, such as OBS Studio, SLOBS, Elgato, XSplit.

Now, ta-da! Your single stream is available on multiple platforms.

Cross-Platform Chat

Restream removes the hassle of switching between platforms to read and reply to messages. Comments from different platforms are available on a single screen, and you can differentiate between each one by the social icon logo attached to each message.

Also, you can display a chat feed on your live stream by using the Chat Overlay feature. This chat box is displayed on top of your video and makes for a much more engaging stream because everyone can take part in the conversation. And, if you want to give your chat box a little more edge, you can customize its look by using one of Restream’s 20+ ready-to-use templates.

Oh, and you don’t have to worry about any potty mouths! Offensive words can be masked out and nasty messages can be hidden from view.

Analyze Stream Performance

You don’t know how well your content is performing unless you analyze it. To measure your success, Restream places all your multiple platform insights on a single interactive dashboard.

The tool takes a look at these six metrics: streams, average duration, streamed time, chat messages, average viewers, and max viewers. In the dashboard, you can see an overview for each metric, but you can click on each one to see further detailed information.

To Restream or not to Restream?

Live streaming has come a long way since the radio broadcasts of the 1990s, and expensive and clunky equipment isn’t your only option now. There are easier and more cost-effective solutions to live stream across multiple platforms like Restream Studio.

So, if you’d like to give Restream a try, you can sign up for a 1-month free trial to get access to all their features. After your trial is over, you can still use Restream for free. The company offers a free plan that gives you access to stream to 30+ platforms using 1 channel per social platform.

If you want to continue using all the features you can upgrade your plan by purchasing a monthly or yearly subscription. With a paid plan, you’ll have access to features that give you the ability to add extra social channels, let you record streams, and remove Restream branding.

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Tech News

Further – the hybrid B2B and B2C startup providing all-in-one learning

(TECHNOLOGY) The Further app “filters” the web to find new skills for a daily dose of badge-earning learning. Consider it your personal learning library!

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There are a ton of resources dedicated to online learning, but the Further app “filters” the web to find new skills for a daily dose of badge-earning learning. Consider it your personal learning library in the palm of your hand. The Further app works to create a continuous learning experience for all, including students, employees, and trainees in a variety of industries.

“We grant intelligent access to high-quality educational content for everyone.”

Educational environments, such as schools and universities, can benefit from weaving in informal learning, increasing engagement. Consultants can use Further to increase their personal knowledge, but also provide professional knowledge to their clients. Safety and health training manuals can be completed in the app for manufacturing, food and beverage, healthcare, retail, and more. Lastly, software and tech employees can keep ahead of the trends by using the Further app.

How it works: Users can choose and collect content from multiple online sources to support their personal or professional skills. The app allows users to automate learning between family, friends, coworkers, and more through groups. Lastly, users are provided with reports to track their learning progress and are given rewards for completing items. Further uses AI to provide personalization through its own learning algorithm – the more it knows the user – the higher quality of educational suggestions it gives related to their goals.

In addition to the above, the Further app implements specific features to create a seamless learning experience. The app comes with a curated dashboard with feed customization, optimized for the users’ specific needs. The content center is bursting with resources that allows you to be in command of your education. In-app and push notifications can be enabled for reminders to complete tasks or grant access to updated trends in the news. And as with any great digital product startup, the Further app allows users to give feedback based on their experiences – you can submit ideas or future requests at their public Trello board (pretty cool if you ask me).

Request early access, download the mobile app, or try out the web extension for Chrome on desktop.

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