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Apple patents smartwatch with flexible display

iwatch patent

On its path to earn back a level of excitement that the company has been missing lately, Apple has been working on a product that combines two of the hottest buzz terms in the technology — wearable electronics and flexible displays.

This much-speculated, but not yet announced product has been known in the media as the “iWatch.” While there had been some degree of rumor about it for months, the US Patent and Trademark Office has made the project semi-official by publishing Apple’s filing for a “Bi-stable Spring with Flexible Display.”

Right now the patent covers something that is more of a wristband than a watch. It supposedly identifies exactly how big your wrist is after you put it on, and adjusts the display accordingly. As for what powers the device and its communications, there is a battery, an integrated circuit, and a wireless antenna. The patent also mentions a “communication link” to a portable electronic device, presumably an iPad or iPhone.

It sounds like the iWatch can’t do much on its own, but it can act as a second display for your iDevice. It also contains a power connector to charge up while you’re at home, but there’s also the ability to charge up, if a bit marginally, via solar power.

In recent years, the traditional wristwatch has fallen out of favor with many people. After all, there is really no need to have a personal device that tells you the time, because everyone has a mobile phone. But that doesn’t mean that the right company can’t make wrist-worn technology relevant again.

In fact, anyone who thinks there isn’t a significant opportunity to reinvent the watch should look no further than the Pebble e-paper watch, which smashed through its $100,000 Kickstarter goal to earn more than $10 million in interested pledgers.

Of course, just as phones are no longer about calling people, the Pebble watch was not at all about checking the time. It was about having a piece of technology strapped to you to allow for always-on access to emails, alerts, music playback, exercise monitoring, and other customized features.

Pebble also drew awe from people because of the e-ink display, something that had never been used in a smart watch before. It was a real hook that drew in technology enthusiasts. The iWatch would no doubt have the same effect because of its flexible display.

Interestingly, Apple never references the word “watch” in its patent, which makes one wonder if the company plans to introduce an entirely new product category like it did with the iPad.