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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Apple Filed Patent for Flexible Wrist Display

Forget sticking a fancy Apple televisions on your wall. It looks like we might be able to strap a display to our wrists in the not-too-distant future.

On Thursday, Apple technology blog Apple Insider discovered Apple filed a patent with The United States Patent and Trademark Office in August 2011 for a flexible watch-like gadget that can wrap around someone’s wrist using a fully bendable display.

The blog likens the watch to “the slap bracelet, also called the slap wrap.”

The patent application puts it differently. “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,” the Apple patent notes. “A response to a current text message can even be managed given a simple virtual keyboard configuration across the fac of the flexible display.”

In other words, the iWatch could be a smartphone stuffed into a wrist gadget. Although it is unclear if the device will come with a full data connection, or if it will require a link to a smartphone.

Based on the patent, it seems the gadget can become a bendable watch, or a flat and rigid display.

As I first reported in late-2011, Apple has been experimenting with wearable computing in its Cupertino headquarters for some time. Last week, I reported that those developments had continued and Apple was now experimenting with a computer that could wrap around a person’s wrist.

Experts have long-believed that the biggest barrier for mainstream adoption of wearables won’t be the challenges of making screens that can curve, but rather! creating longer-lasting batteries. But Apple seems to be taking that into consideration, too.

“A solar panel array spread across a surface of the accessory device can lengthen the amount of time the accessory device could be operated between recharging,” the patent notes.

“People don’t want to take off a wearable computer to constantly charge it,” explained Sarah Rotman Epps, a Forrester analyst who specializes in wearable computing and smartphones.

The choice to develop an iWatch and not iGlasses is a different approach from the one taken by Google, which is going straight for the face, making augmented reality Google Glasses.

The Appl watch patent filing credits Apple employees Fletcher R. Rothkopf, Derek W. Wright and Scott A. Myers, as its inventors.