Apple reveals all-new Apple Watch Design with a Display covering the Face and Band & Also Points to a TV
Today the US Patent & Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that delivers quite the punch. The inventions in the filing cover a new Apple Watch Design and a possible HDTV. Back in 2012 Patently Apple reported on the Corning's new highly flexible and strong 'Willow Glass as noted in our cover graphic' Apple notes in today's patent filing that "one exemplary flexible glass substrate is manufactured under the trade name WILLOW glass by Corning Incorporated located in Corning, N.Y." Kind of timely considering we just posted a report titled "Apple Awards Corning First Investment from their Advanced Manufacturing Fund as Promised." The mention of an HDTV is kind of timely as well considering that Foxconn is likely to announce a large panel display plant in the U.S. later this year, an idea that was first presented to President-Elect Trump back in early January.
Possible New Apple Watch Design
Apple notes that their patent covers exemplary system applications including wearable, rollable, and foldable displays. Starting with Apple's patent FIG 11 noted below we're able to see an all-new watch design that includes a single continuous flexible display covering both the face and the band. It's an idea that Apple has been working on since 2015.
Apple further notes that in one embodiment, the wearable electronic device is a smartwatch including a watch face, band and clasp. A flexible display panel #215, #315 (noted above) may be integrated into the smartwatch so that it spans both the watch face and band. In accordance with embodiments of the invention, a bezel width surrounding the display panels can be minimized, for example below 4-5 mm or even less than 1 mm, less than 0.5 mm, or eliminated.
A module within the watch includes a processor and memory for managing the wearable electronic device and executing or interpreting instructions and commands for the wearable electronic devices.
The module may also include a communication module. In one embodiment the communication module can further include wireless transceivers for Bluetooth, or WLAN connectivity, and can additionally include one or more WWAN transceivers to communicate with a wide area network including a cellular data network.
In an embodiment, the operations further include receiving a configuration of the flexible display panel of the watch face and band, receiving a design from the derived data, (e.g. type of watch design including a watch face and watch band), and updating the flexible display panel spanning the watch face and watch band of the smartwatch with the received design.
Apple's patent FIG. 5A is a schematic front view illustration of a display substrate including an array of LEDs #214 and microchips #216 in a display.
According to Apple, patent FIG. 17 noted below "illustrates a system diagram #1700 for an embodiment of a display system (e.g. a television) including a flexible display panel #1710."
Whatever kind of "television" Apple is contemplating, it may not be conventional. For one thing, it'll contain a flexible battery. Apple specifically notes that "The system also includes a power module 1780 (e.g., flexible batteries, wired or wireless charging circuits, etc.), a peripheral interface 1708, and one or more external ports 1790 (e.g., Universal Serial Bus (USB), HDMI, Display Port, and/or others).
Secondly, Apple notes that "In one embodiment, the display system includes a communication module #1712 configured to interface with the one or more external ports. For example, the communication module can include one or more transceivers functioning in accordance with IEEE standards, 3GPP standards, or other communication standards, and configured to receive and transmit data via the one or more external ports.
Apple illustrates a television early on in the patent, but its reference is in context to what Apple wants to improve and not necessarily the design of their possible future TV. But it's clear that the invention covers a TV as they noted in the patent.
For the record, the vast majority of the patent filing covers a smartwatch, with the TV only covering about 5% of the patent. So it's definitely not the priority of this invention.
And one more thing, Patently Apple posted a report last month titled "Korea's Deep Paranoia is Setting in as Apple Considers a Supply Shift to China and Apple Watch 3 Shifts to Micro-LED." Today's patent filing covers Micro-LED as follows: "In one aspect, embodiments of the invention describe display panels and display module packaging configurations in which micro LED devices and/or microchips are transferred and bonded to a wiring using an electrostatic transfer head assembly."
Apple's invention is noted as being filed in January 2017.
It should be noted that this is not a design patent, so a possible new Apple Watch design doesn't have to look like the one illustrated in the patent filing. Utility patents only provide us with an overview concept and not the actual design. Apple has many design ideas for the Apple Watch as noted in our archives here.
The concept displayed in today's published patent is just one of many, though extending a display through to the band is one of Apple's themes. Additionally, Apple acquired LuxVue regarding their Micro-LED technologies and ideas of how to implement this future display market.
Earlier this month Patently Apple posted a report titled "Back in Samsung Seeks to Join the Micro-LED Display Race along with Apple, Sony and Oculus" In that report we noted that the Korea Herald had reported that "Samsung is seeking to acquire Taiwan's PlayNitide, a micro-LED maker for an estimated $150 million. The report notes that "Apple is reportedly considering using the display for its new devices, including Apple Watch, and ultimately for the iPhone." By their report, it's clear that the industry believes Apple is going to surprise them one day with a Micro-LED based Apple Watch or other products like a head mounted display.
If Apple is to consider using Micro-LED displays for a future watch, then it would have to rely on LuxVue's expertise and technology as noted in today's published patent report. Apple knew this was a future trend and they acquired LuxVue in 2014.
One of the key engineers from LuxVue is currently Apple's Director, Engineering and Product Development. Obviously Micro-LED's will play a future role in Apple's product line and with LuxVue's top engineer working on future products, we can safely assume that Apple Watch could be where it could first surface.
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