Apple wants to make iPhone & Apple Watch screens last longer


Protect Your Access to the Internet

With the increased use of OLED screens, the old issue of burn-in is back — but Apple has a plan for compensating for that damage to iPhone and Apple Watch displays.

Screen savers only exist because they used to have to save your screen. Right from the earliest days of computing, burn-in happened if a monitor was left on showing the same thing, or very often returned to that same thing.

It meant there would always be a kind of ghostly image visible on the display, regardless of whether the screen was now showing something else. It was generally permanent, which meant monitors ultimately being scrapped.

That issue lessened after CRT displays went away, or at least vanished enough that screen savers became simply diversions instead of tools. But a similar issue affects OLED screens and now Apple has been granted a patent regarding a method to compensate for the damage.

The proposals in “Reference Pixel Stressing For Burn-In Compensation Systems And Methods,” would ultimately lead to an iPhone, Apple Watch, or other OLED device, determining that there was burn-in damage, and then changing what it displays on the screen. Where burn-in means a section of a display is duller than the rest, the iPhone could adjust the screen output so that same section is told to be brighter than the rest.

“As electronic displays gain increasingly higher resolutions and dynamic ranges, they may also become increasingly more susceptible to image display artifacts due to pixel burn-in,” says Apple. “This disclosure relates to identifying and compensating for burn-in and/or aging arti- facts on an electronic display.”

Apple suggests reducing the problem by use of statistics concerning display usage, and what it calls a series of “reference pixels.”

“An electronic device may include an electronic display including display pixels to display an image based on compensated image data,” says the patent. “The electronic display may also include a stressed reference pixel to exhibit burn-in related aging in response to one or more stress sessions and a…