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Apple iWatch: What we know so far

Yoni Heisler | May 29, 2013
Evidence indicates Apple is pouring resources into development of 'snap bracelet' style device with a flexible display.

Apple's patent reads in part:

``In a first equilibrium position they can be flat. The second equilibrium is typically reached by slapping the flat embodiment across the wrist, at which point the bracelet curls around the wrist and stays relatively secure in a roughly circular position."

Much like the iPhone, the focal point of the iWatch would be a large and dynamic screen. One inherent problem, however, is that individuals have wrists of varying sizes. Consequently, how can Apple design a watch and account for a display that would necessarily be slightly different from user to user?

Apple's patent describes a clever solution wherein sensors on the watch would detect unused portions of the display and deactivate them accordingly. This, Apple writes, would "have the additional advantage of saving accessory device power."

As you can see from Apple's patent illustration above, the sensors would detect where the watch overlaps on a user's wrist. Consequently, the device would be able to provide a seamless display of information no matter the wrist size of the user.

And here's what a side view of the device would look like.

Below is a patent drawing illustrating what an iWatch style device would look like from the top in its uncurved state.

Item 302 points to the device's flexible display while item 306 points to the opposite side of the device's electronic modules which are detailed below.

This patent illustration purports to show what an iWatch might look like from the bottom.

Apple's patent explains the numbers above:

``Kinetic energy gathering device 502 is shown on the right side of flexible electronic module 408. One of the advantages of having the accessory device on an extremity is that it is an ideal location for gathering kinetic energy. The simple motion of a user's arm or leg allows the accessory device to harness some of that energy for charging battery 504.''

Item 506 is the device's antenna which would be able to pass data either via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or "any other suitable wireless protocol." Apple's patent adds:

``Connector 508 allows accessory device 400 to be connected by wire to another electronic device for activities such as charging, performing firmware updates, or even for reconfiguring the device. Connector 508 can consist of a plug as shown, or could have a small tab that extended from the flexible electronic module for easily plugging into a computer port.''

And as for the device's dimensions, Apple's patent indicates that the wider the better:

``As the accessory device widens its potential for functionality also increases. At a width of a few inches the display can function to temporarily view and manipulate the screen of the portable electronic device it is in communication with. This might be desirable when the portable electronic device is stored in an inconvenient location such as a cargo pocket, or the bottom of a backpack. A larger display is also more desirable for map viewing. The arm mounted location makes map viewing a desirable function for such a device, as a traveler or explorer can easily reference the information with a flick of the wrist while exploring. A wider overall device width also allows for a larger flexible electronic module. This allows more space for a larger battery, and additional sensors...''


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