Wearable Tech World Feature Article
February 21, 2013

Apple Patent Provides More Detail on iWatch

Does it truly take Apple to develop an iPhone killer? A recently unearthed patent detailing more about the iWatch line of wearable devices suggests that it may well have just that on its hands, at least one day. The patent discusses not only the display, but also how the device manages to be, truly, a one size fits all application.

Back in August 2011, as the folks at AppleInsider discovered, Apple filed a patent application for what was described as a "bi-stable spring with flexible display," allowing the unit to serve as a wrist-mounted display device for a separate device, which can connect to the display via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity. For those not familiar with the term "bi-stable spring," Apple went on to liken it to something a lot simpler overall: the slap bracelet.

The bi-stable spring in question would be made of thin steel, wrapped in fabric, and heat sealed. Then the flexible display part of the affair would be laid over one side of the bracelet portion, with the battery, the logic board, and various other parts being mounted at the other end. Users would then "slap" the flat bi-stable spring bracelet into place, which would curl up into a rough circle and lock, lightly, around the user's wrist, thus allowing users of all different sizes to work with the device equally well.

The patent also detailed other versions, including one involving a thicker fabric covering, and the flexible display mounted directly to the bracelet itself. A set of built-in sensors would serve to properly angle the display, so that it could tell the difference between pointed toward and pointed away, much in the way Apple devices do now with their difference between portrait and landscape orientation. Further possibilities include the addition of ambient light energy collectors--solar panels, really--to augment battery life, an AMOLED display, and both wireless and wired connectors.

While the exact nature of the iWatch is still somewhat unknown, having this many possibilities covered by a patent shows a definite interest in getting the iWatch developed and ready for operation. It's also a sign of the growing overall interest in wearable technology devices, and may well ultimately prove a match for the iPhone itself. While right now, the iWatch looks like, essentially, a peripheral for the iPhone and little more, there's certainly nothing saying that the iWatch couldn't be refined into a complete calling mechanism. The touchscreen would be enough to dial a device or operate a larger control scheme, so why not put it in operation as a replacement for the iPhone?

Still, with devices like Google Glass and now the iWatch coming more progressively into play--estimates place the annual shipment count as high as 485 million units by just 2018--the idea of technology that can be worn on the body yet used like normal hardware is truly coming into its own. Seeing just where Google, Apple, and all the rest go with the idea, however, should be truly exciting.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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