Electronista has discovered an Apple patent that would allow users to set privacy viewing parameters on their device's displays in order to keep unwanted eyes from seeing what they are doing. The patent, titled Systems and Methods for Electronically Controlling the Viewing Angle of a Display, describes a way that LCDs could use embedded "scattering modules" to "selectively steer a device generated light beam to one of two or more scattering regions of its associated scattering module." In other words, users could choose who sees what on their screens by setting viewable angles.
The patent shows the technology in use on an iPod classic, but it's conceivable that it could be applied to iPhones and iPads as well. This technology, if Apple ever enacted it, would be a boon for those working on sensitive documents in public places, like in cafés or on public transportation. It would also be great for teenagers, because they wouldn't have to wear out the Exposé and Spaces keys every time their mom and dad walk by.