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Apple iWatch May Have Curved, Continuous Touchscreen

by Paul Strauss

Rumors about the potential for an Apple iWatch continue to build, and adding fuel to the fire is a patent filing from Apple discovered by Apple Insider which shows off a curved, touchscreen display which could be worn on the wrist.

apple_iwatch_patent_1

The U.S. Patent filing, originally submitted in August 2011, but updated as recently as today, starts off as follows:

A wearable video device arranged to be worn by an end-user, comprising: a flexible substrate having a flat state and a curled state; a flexible display disposed upon a first surface of the flexible substrate, wherein in the curled state the flexible substrate conforms to an appendage of the end-user, the flexible substrate further comprising: an electronic module in communication with the flexible display, the electronic module providing information to the display, at least a part of which is presented in real time for presentation by the flexible display; and a mechanism for detecting an end portion of the flexible display, the detection for adjusting the arrangement of information shown on the flexible display to match the size of the appendage the wearable video device is mounted on.

…or in layperson’s terms – a watch with a flexible touchscreen and flexible electronics.

apple_iwatch_patent_2

The design would wrap around its wearer’s wrist, and automatically adjust the display UI based on their wrist size – pretty slick stuff. The capacitive touch display would be wrapped around a “bi-stable spring substrate,” which would allow the watch to conform to its wearer’s wrist, much like a slap bracelet. In addition curved screen and bracelet, the patent describes the inclusion of an inertial orientation  sensor which would automatically reorient the display based on how the user is looking at it.

In order to keep the patent sufficiently broad, they don’t specify all of the potential use cases for the watch, but one example sounds like it could offer smartphone connectivity similar to that found in other smartwatches already on the market:

…the end user could respond to alerts sent from the portable electronic device and even direct the operations of the portable electronic device to an extent limited by the accessory device user interface. With a touch screen user input a user can accomplish a number of different tasks including adjusting the order of a current playlist, and reviewing a list of recent phone calls. A response to a current text message can even be managed given a simple virtual keyboard configuration across the face of the flexible display.

apple_iwatch_patent_3

The patent also describes the potential for using a kinetic energy device as well as an ambient light energy collector to help keep its battery charged. It also envisions a possible configuration which would include bright edge-lighting for displaying alerts with increased peripheral visibility. They also hint that the device could support both 5GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth connectivity, with Wi-Fi being used for content like video streaming, and Bluetooth for smaller data payloads.

While it’s always possible that Apple won’t bring any or all of these ideas to market, it clearly shows that there’s still innovative thinking going on within the walls at Apple, and that if they do release an iWatch, it won’t be like any other watch you’ve seen.

You can read the full patent application here.

[via Apple Insider]




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