KEY POINTS

  • Apple is working on a way to prevent burn-in issues on the Apple Watch display
  • A new patent application shows how the company might do that
  • The patent application describes the use of control circuitry to move everything on the screen

A new patent application shows Apple is looking for ways to prevent the Apple Watch display from suffering burn-in problems.

A new patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office describes Apple's plan to prevent the Apple Watch display from being affected by possible burn-in. The patent application, titled “Electronic Devices With Display Burn-in Mitigation,” was first spotted by Apple Insider. It was filed early last year but was only published on Thursday.

Burn-in happens when certain elements are displayed on an electronic device's display for a long time. Per the patent, Apple doesn't want the Apple Watch to suffer from this problem as this “can cause uneven wear on the pixels of the display.”

Furthermore, Apple said in the patent that “if care is not taken, burn-in effects can lead to the creation of undesired ghost images on a display,” affecting the device's overall look and performance. This will make the Apple Watch look bad, and the ghost images might cause the device to display things like the time and other things inaccurately.

Apple plans to prevent burn-in from happening to the Apple Watch by using “control circuitry” that will “impose burn-in constraints” to watch face elements. These constraints include “peak luminance constraints, dwell time constraints, color constraints, constraints on the shape of each element, and constraints on element style.”

The patent indicated that some watch face elements remain static for a long period of time. While some elements like watch hands (for hours and minutes) move over time, some elements such as watch face indices (tick marks) and watch face complications remain static over an extended period of time.

Apple Watch The Apple Watch has static and moving elements on the screen. Photo: Apple/USPTO

Since these static elements do not move around the display like the other elements, the patent proposes that the control circuitry inside the device apply constraints on them instead. The control circuitry can be “configured to dynamically adjust the locations” of the static elements while the device is in use.

The patent indicates that the control circuitry will adjust the elements' peak brightness, alter their colors and shapes and adjust the amount of time they appear in their designated areas as needed. It's unclear as to how this will work in practice, but the description implies that the static elements will be subtly adjusted so that users won't notice.