Motorola Patents ‘Smart Glass’ For Self-Healing Screens

August 16, 2017 - Written By Alexandra Burlacu

A recently uncovered Motorola patent indicates that future smartphones from the company might be able to heal themselves upon suffering damage. Motorola is already heavily focused on product durability and has recently launched shatter-proof smartphones thanks to its ShatterShield display technology, but the new tech detailed in this patent could take things to the next level. While ShatterShield involves a plastic polymer that prevents the display from shattering, the newly uncovered self-healing technology would involve a glass polymer that can “remember” its original shape and restore itself if it suffers damage. While the prospect of such a solution is promising, there are obviously no guarantees that this patent will ever be commercialized by the Lenovo-owned consumer electronics manufacturer.

The patent mentions a “smart glass” technology that could involve a type of plastic polymer that resembles glass and would use internal heat from the device to fix any damage to the display. That “memory” polymer would remember its original shape and restore itself when possible, albeit it will not be able to fix all types of damage. The technology will probably be able to handle small scuffs and cracks, but not a completely shattered display or one with a missing chunk of a panel. The patent details how the technology would enable the device to detect when its screen is damaged and will send a notification to the user, prompting them to take action. When the user agrees to start the healing process, they will be asked not to touch the device until the procedure is complete.

Once the healing process commences, special hardware parts will start heating up the display using internal heat from the smartphone, moving the display molecules around under a higher temperature until they reach their original shape or as close as they can get to it. Motorola says that this technology will be able to fix some light screen damage, but it remains to be seen just how far it will be able to go. Since Motorola just obtained the patent, it’s highly unlikely that self-healing smartphones will hit the scene in the immediate future. The company likely has to conduct a lot more testing in order to determine whether its solution is commercially viable, though an update on this technology may follow in the coming months.