The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially published a series of 68 newly granted patents for Apple Inc. today. In this particular report we cover an invention about "Flexible electronic devices" that Apple has been working on since 2011. It's first published application surfacing back in 2013 in Europe. Patently Apple covered that first application extensively and you could review this in-depth report here for more details.
Today Apple was granted 9,971,448 for "Flexible Electronic Devices." This is Apple's third granted patent for this invention. How do you tell one granted patent from another? Simply review the patent claims. Sometimes it's very difficult to find a big feature stand out from the previous granted patent. In this case one interesting feature stood out. Apple doubled down on the invention relating to a possible future Apple Watch taking advantage of flexible device/display. Below are the 7 new patent claims in full:
Patent Claim #14: A wrist-watch electronic device, comprising: a display having a rigid cover layer; a flexible member coupled to the display; a sensor that detects user input on the flexible member; and processing circuitry that gathers signals from the sensor and that controls the display based on the signals.
Patent Claim #15: The wrist-watch electronic device defined in claim 14 wherein the flexible member comprises a material selected from the group consisting of: polymer, silicone, fabric, and metal.
Patent Claim #16: The wrist-watch electronic device defined in claim 14 wherein the display comprises an organic light-emitting diode display.
Patent Claim #17: The wrist-watch electronic device defined in claim 14 wherein the sensor comprises a sensor selected from the group consisting of: a proximity sensor, a pressure sensor, and a touch sensor.
Patent Claim #18: The wrist-watch electronic device defined in claim 14 wherein the display comprises an organic light-emitting diode display.
Patent Claim #19: The wrist-watch electronic device defined in claim 14 wherein the flexible member is movable between a flat configuration and a curved configuration.
Patent Claim #20: the wrist-watch electronic device defined in claim 14 wherein the sensor detects deformation of the flexible member and wherein the processing circuitry controls the display based on the deformation.
How could this invention relate to an Apple Watch that is both extremely flexible and yet able to lay flat? Back in the same year that the original flexible device patent was published, there was another patent invention that came to light for a wraparound device/display what we covered in a report extensively here. Patent FIG. 3 from that invention is noted below. Now the Apple Watch reference in today's granted patent begins to take shape.
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