Ok, well if reports from The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and Bloomberg didn’t convince you that the rumored ‘iWatch‘ project is real, maybe this will. A new Apple patent filing has surfaced for a wearable accessory with a flexible display.
Apple first filed its “Bi-stable spring with flexible display” patent application with the US Patent and Trademark Office back in August of 2011. And it describes a slap bracelet (remember those?)-like accessory with a full-length flexible touchscreen…
When active, Apple says that the unit can connect to a mobile device, like an iPhone, via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. And it can show relevant information in real time on its flexible display like missed phone calls and messages, iPod playlists and controls, and more.
“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 suggests embedding a wide range of sensors in its ‘slap bracelet’ (no seriously, it says that), including gyroscopes and accelerometers. It also mentions built-in ‘ambient light energy collectors,’ or tiny solar panels, to encourage less frequent charging.
As usual, just because this stuff shows up in a patent application, doesn’t guarantee that it’ll ever make it to market. But nevertheless, this is by far the most tangible evidence we’ve seen that Apple is working on an iPhone-compatible, wearable smart device.
And oddly enough, the device described in this filing sounds a lot more like a Nike Fuel band than it does a watch—which would honestly be fine by me. The less conspicuous something like this is, the better, which is where I think Google’s getting it wrong.
Apple credits Fletcher R. Rothkopf, a Mechanical Design Engineer, Derek W. Wright, a Product Design Engineer, and Scott A. Myers, a Design Engineer, as the patent’s inventors.