Print 48 comment(s) - last by Fritzr.. on Feb 27 at 10:27 AM

The patent application is for a "Bi-stable spring with flexible display"

A patent application filed by Apple indicates that it certainly is working on a wearable device, but it will work much like a "slap bracelet."

The patent application, discovered Thursday, was for a "Bi-stable spring with flexible display." It was filed in August 2011.

According to the application, the bi-stable spring would be made out of thin steel and wrapped in fabric covering, then heat-sealed. The display would be located on one side of the bracelet (overlaid with an adhesive) and the logic board and battery would be placed on the other side. Another idea shows that display mounted right to the bracelet and framed by a thicker fabric.

It is made for universal fit of any wrist (or other body part where the user wishes to wear it). The patent described sensors for "end-detection," which means these sensors can turn off an unused portion of the bracelet (for smaller wrists) that is covered by the bracelet overlap.

Other on-board sensors, like gyroscopes and accelerometers, can be used while the bracelet is in curved form (around the wrist) to detect when it is being worn and provide an uninterrupted screen. This would also make sure the screen's information is in the right position for the user to see it.

As far as the information provided on the display, the patent says this:

"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."

Further, the battery could be powered by solar panels and kinetic energy to increase efficiency. It will also likely feature wireless charging for the internal battery.

Just last week, it was reported that Apple was working on a smart watch device. The tech giant is already in talks with manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., and Hon Hai has been working on new technologies for wearable devices, such as more efficient displays and chips at that size.

Source: Apple Insider

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Watches are never coming back
By johnsmith9875 on 2/21/2013 12:04:46 PM , Rating: 3
They're going the way of pocket watches. Hopefully this is just a ruse by Apple and they're going to release something actually useful, like a personal server box to integrate all Apple devices in your home together.

RE: Watches are never coming back
By FaaR on 2/21/2013 12:27:41 PM , Rating: 1
As someone who lives in a place where winters are cold, really cold, today's smartphones aren't really all that suited to such climates. A more accessible way to do simple input would be much desired by me, without having to open up my jacket to haul out the phone itself and start fiddling when the temps may be -20C.

If you have no desire in such a device as this, fine. Everybody's entitled to their opinion, but don't presume you speak for everyone, everywhere.

RE: Watches are never coming back
By CZroe on 2/21/2013 8:27:24 PM , Rating: 2
As a motorcycle rider often wearing gloves, I've been demanding this for years. My Sony-Ericsson MBW-150's display didn't last long and the LiveView/SmartWatch they make today has no physical controls. Most smart watches either stupidly try to cram limited smartphone hardware into your wrist (why when you can be a remote display for the unused power in your pocket?) or have no physical input (touch sensors only). The Pebble is the closest though I'd prefer the MBW-150 with a functional display (can't tell it's not a watch).

Other than physical controls, Caller ID and remote call rejection is important. Vibration while on silent with disconnect notification is also.

RE: Watches are never coming back
By Shamefoot on 2/23/2013 7:27:21 PM , Rating: 2
The Lumia 920 works just fine with gloves on. You should give it a try.

RE: Watches are never coming back
By Flunk on 2/25/2013 12:52:03 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know where you ride bikes but you can't really hold and use a touchscreen phone while riding without crashing into things*.

*A lot of car drivers are not capable of this either.

RE: Watches are never coming back
By bah12 on 2/21/2013 12:54:08 PM , Rating: 2
My bet is it is just a proprietary blue tooth type device to control basic functions of the iPhone in your pocket. More of an accessory than an actual device itself. Niche market for sure.

RE: Watches are never coming back
By Souka on 2/22/2013 11:58:09 AM , Rating: 2
Even if just that, the niche market you speak of will probably sell several hundred million units within a year.

It would be cool if somehow the body's heat could be used to help provide some power, or a transparent solar cell overlay

RE: Watches are never coming back
By ShieTar on 2/27/2013 9:26:35 AM , Rating: 2
You are aware that generating power with body-heat means to use said body-heat, and thus cool down a patch of your skin to probably uncomfortably low temperatures?

RE: Watches are never coming back
By xti on 2/21/2013 2:09:11 PM , Rating: 2
coming back? did they ever leave?

mens watches seem to be as popular as ever?

By NellyFromMA on 2/21/2013 3:29:31 PM , Rating: 1
He said pocket watch didn't he? And a Rolex vs a breakfast cereal slap band hardly seems a fair comparison.

RE: Watches are never coming back
By Motoman on 2/22/2013 10:03:59 AM , Rating: 2
Not even close. Vast numbers of people have just simply stopped wearing watches, due to the fact that they always have their cell phone with them. Even me...a relatively old guy, certainly by technology standards. Like everyone else around me, I habitually wore a watch every day...but one day, several years ago, when the battery died on my watch I just stopped wearing it. Didn't replace the battery, and haven't missed it. Years go by and my mom buys me a new watch for Christmas..."oh, that's a nice watch" - and into a drawer it goes, never to see the light of day again.

Pretty much everyone else I know is the same way. Off the top of my head I can only think of a couple people who actually regularly wear watches anymore.

RE: Watches are never coming back
By Flunk on 2/25/2013 1:06:07 PM , Rating: 2
I depends on what you do for a living and how you want others to see you. Wearing a watch is more about fashion than functionality and has been for years.

It's mostly jewelry at this point, but trust me, a good watch can help your career.

RE: Watches are never coming back
By Trisped on 2/21/2013 2:44:11 PM , Rating: 2
The cheep $2 to $10 watches may have been replaced by the clocks on cellphones, but watches are still rather popular.

It is more likely that stand alone devices like mp3 players, cell phone, and palm top computers will be replaced with a watch form factor. This is much more convenient then having to pull it out of your pocket or off your over priced belt clip.

RE: Watches are never coming back
By ritualm on 2/21/2013 3:41:19 PM , Rating: 3
'Dumb' watches (i.e. those that tell time and not much else) go for at least 6-12 months between battery changes.

'Smart' watches have average battery lives anywhere between a few days and 12 months, highly dependent on usage patterns.

Your average smartphone lasts only one week while idle (i.e. no calls, no WiFi/LTE, no data processing whatsoever) - and that is the best case scenario.

Sorry, but your super fancy iPhone 5S is not replacing a good wristwatch anytime, never mind being usable while taking hot showers and snorkeling in shallow waters.

RE: Watches are never coming back
By Flunk on 2/25/2013 1:07:52 PM , Rating: 2
6-12 months would be terrible watch runtime. My watch goes 5-7 years between batteries.

RE: Watches are never coming back
By rs2 on 2/21/2013 11:09:35 PM , Rating: 4
Whay? Pocket watches are alive and well. So well, in fact, that they've been embellished with all sorts of fancy bells and whistles.

My pocket watch can browse the Internet, play games, watch videos, and even make and receive phone calls. And on top of that it even tells the time, just like any good pocket watch should.

RE: Watches are never coming back
By maugrimtr on 2/22/2013 10:23:58 AM , Rating: 3
That's actually a really good point. Fine, pocket watches are not quite the same but we still wound up something large being shoved into our pockets.

Years from now, the Glass and Implant wearing kids will find our constant searching for the damn phone quite amusing in their historical holodramas ;).

RE: Watches are never coming back
By coondini on 2/22/2013 12:35:31 PM , Rating: 2
I keep mine on my belt clip.

RE: Watches are never coming back
By Wolfpup on 2/25/2013 12:22:05 PM , Rating: 2
Umm...this isn't just a watch. That's like saying smartphones are dead because pocket watches don't sell much.

Depending on what this does, this sounds potentially cool to me. I'd actually like a full ipod watch, like a real one, not that (super unreliable) iPod nano 6 that some people were slapping on watch bands.

By thefrozentin on 2/21/2013 1:43:17 PM , Rating: 5
You heard it here first.

RE: iSlap
By Nortel on 2/21/2013 4:20:39 PM , Rating: 2
My guess goes to iTime.

RE: iSlap
By JeBarr on 2/22/2013 1:09:34 AM , Rating: 2

RE: iSlap
By Motoman on 2/22/2013 10:04:43 AM , Rating: 3

*$$* Tracy has prior art on this ...
By edantes on 2/21/2013 1:17:33 PM , Rating: 2
The US Patent Office is already tech world's laughing stock. It won't help if this patent is granted. Once there is a practical high resolution flexible display, the device is 100% trivial. And I doubt the display will be Apple's invention.

By Trisped on 2/21/2013 2:47:29 PM , Rating: 2
My though exactly.

Their idea of combining two existing technologies is rather obvious. Not to mention the fact that there are already companies which put limited function computers into slap bracelets.

Obvious and trivial.

RE: *$$* Tracy has prior art on this ...
By Solandri on 2/21/2013 2:50:54 PM , Rating: 2
Back in the 1980s there was a patent suit over early cell phones. The Dick Tracy comic was in fact used as prior art (portable two-way communications device) to defeat the lawsuit and overturn the patent.

By JeBarr on 2/22/2013 1:08:22 AM , Rating: 1
Speaking of Dick Tracy...

With this we are one step closer to the Holographic Wrist Communicator.

Can't wait.

By fleshconsumed on 2/21/2013 12:14:49 PM , Rating: 4
I just hope they don't patent obvious stuff like watch and then sue everyone into oblivion... Damn, too late, looks like they already patented it. Watch lawsuits incoming.

I can't decide if I should be disgusted or amazed at the Apple's ability to get these junk patents approved.

Just a slap bracelet?
By woody1 on 2/22/2013 12:56:44 PM , Rating: 2
Uh, this patent just addresses the bracelet, but the fact that Apple is patenting this suggests that they are indeed working on some kind of wearable device. To say that they're introducing just "a slap bracelet" is like describing the iPhone as a little metal box. The bracelet is trivial, but the device may not be.

Since it's Apple and they have a good history of creating game-changing devices, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. Still, a wrist controller for your smartphone seems pretty nerdy and not very necessary. I would not expect the market for this to be huge, but I could be very wrong.

RE: Just a slap bracelet?
By Fritzr on 2/27/2013 10:27:25 AM , Rating: 2
Immediately under diagram 5A (which appears to show a 'screen' you will find the part of the patent claim that declares this to be a "smart device". Mentioned are a touch screen to modify playlists or list of phone numbers.

With that short excerpt, Apple is claiming any device which has iPod Touch/iPhone capabilities without demonstrating a working device. That last part by the way is supposedly a violation of the patent application requirements unless Apple had working prototypes at the time of filing.

Flexible Screen
By StoveMeister on 2/24/2013 9:00:06 PM , Rating: 2
Just thinking out loud here, but AFAIK the only viable tech for the flexible screen would be Samsung's flexible OLED?
Oh the irony. . . .

Wonder when Apple will sue Samsung for thinking of the flexible screen first.

RE: Flexible Screen
By messele on 2/26/2013 4:22:10 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps but then Samsung did not invent OLED nor did they invent flexible displays so what was your point again and who are you trying to kid, exactly?

By MrBlastman on 2/21/2013 2:14:30 PM , Rating: 3
Go ahead, pump it up!

Slap that wrist and make a fist. Pull it out and wiggle n' shout!

Pump it pump it! Apple Time!

(The following was a public service announcement calling on all Apple Zombies this next patentable already semi-created and stolen wonder)

Circle of life
By Armageddonite on 2/22/2013 8:21:29 PM , Rating: 3
So, Apple is "borrowing" another idea they didn't have anything to do with creating (as per the cited WIMM article), and plans on making it their next big thing? And I'm sure dozens of Appophiles will have many lovely theories on how this really was Apple's idea after all. Meanwhile in reality, actual people will look upon it and say "Oh, not bad. What else is there?"

Apple is proud to present...
By GreenChile on 2/21/2013 1:12:13 PM , Rating: 2
a new watch designed to deflect attention away from the users severely deformed hand!

flexible displays
By CU on 2/21/2013 1:51:19 PM , Rating: 2
How close are we to production ready flexible displays? Assuming Apple is not working on flexible displays, (They didn't patent that did they?) how can they patent something that relies on something they cannot make or buy? Can they patent the holodeck and just assume someone else will create force fields and holograms.

Patents like this bother me. Patent the flexible display, thats fine. It is truly new technology. But patenting everything you apply flexible displays to is wrong. Once you have a flexible display, putting it on a watch, phone, tablet, clothes, etc. is obvious. It would be like someone inventing a new type of fabric that doesn't get dirty and never needs to be cleaned. You can not then go and patent shirts, jeans, etc. made from that fabric.

Nokia's Patent
By praeses on 2/21/2013 4:45:15 PM , Rating: 2
Doesn't Nokia's patent from a few years ago pretty much cover the same thing?

By capcomdevil on 2/21/2013 10:01:28 PM , Rating: 2
patent in 2011? apple, do u actually have the real watch? or just patent from ur imagination to monopoly the shape of object belong to u?

luckly our life not patent by u or else we need walk upside down

By CristinaHurt22 on 2/24/2013 9:13:00 PM , Rating: 2
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The first customer in the queue...
By Tony Swash on 2/21/13, Rating: -1
RE: The first customer in the queue...
By othercents on 2/21/2013 12:06:30 PM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't be so fast. How long do normal metal slap bracelets last? The metal fatigue and then the plastic ones get bent in the wrong direction causing creases across the plastic. I don't foresee a slap bracelet lasting more than a year when taking it off every night. It would be better if it was a bendable screen with a connector on both ends to connect together.

By GulWestfale on 2/21/2013 12:53:34 PM , Rating: 3
that's only because you're wearing it wrong.

RE: The first customer in the queue...
By CU on 2/21/2013 1:32:17 PM , Rating: 2
I was recently digging around at my parents and ran across one of my old slap bracelets and it still worked. My kids thought it was the coolest thing.

By Tony Swash on 2/21/2013 7:34:33 PM , Rating: 1
I wouldn't be so fast. How long do normal metal slap bracelets last? The metal fatigue and then the plastic ones get bent in the wrong direction causing creases across the plastic. I don't foresee a slap bracelet lasting more than a year when taking it off every night. It would be better if it was a bendable screen with a connector on both ends to connect together.

I guess you didn't get the joke :)

RE: The first customer in the queue...
By Silent157 on 2/21/2013 12:07:47 PM , Rating: 2
Who or what is Cheesew1z69?

RE: The first customer in the queue...
By Cheesew1z69 on 2/21/2013 1:23:24 PM , Rating: 1

RE: The first customer in the queue...
By Tony Swash on 2/21/2013 6:30:34 PM , Rating: 1
Are you a who or a what?

By testerguy on 2/24/2013 12:09:10 PM , Rating: 2
Dailytech monkey.

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