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Samsung wins a Patent for a Smart Bracelet with a Flexible Display that has very Unique Properties & Advantages



Last month Patently Apple posted a report covering IDC's wearable device market forecast up to 2021. While smart clothing is to experience a burst of strength over the next four years, it's still wrist-based wearables like smartwatches and wrist bands that will clearly dominated this market segment. Patently Apple has covered Apple patents covering smart fabrics back in August, while covering a few major patents regarding possible future smart watch bands (01, 02 and 03). Samsung on the other hand has been focusing on developing bracelets with larger flexible displays (01, 02 and 03). Of course Samsung has the clear advantage in designing devices with displays because they own their own display plants to support Samsung devices and to many top industry leaders like Apple and those in China.


Patently Apple is a believer in following the trends of some of Apple's top competitors so as to understand possible new products in the wings, new materials being used and possibly new applications. This week our other IP blog Patently Mobile covered a report about a new notebook Samsung may be working on that could provide a next-gen touchpad that could double as a mechanism that understand  user's in-air gestures. The other patent of interest covers their continuing work on a smart bracelet, with their latest invention wining a patent this week.   


This week the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Samsung a patent for a next generation wearable device in the form of a bracelet once again and it's Samsung's most elaborate design to date. The invention illustrates an Android interface on the display that carries very unique properties. The flexible device is actually an add-on to the base of the bracelet as noted in our cover graphic. The display is able to take on the shape of the bracelet or it can be altered so that one portion of the display could be stiffened and appear to slant away from the bracelet base so that it stands up straight or be shifted to present itself horizontally that's better suited for certain types of jobs.


Samsung's newly granted patent covers their invention relating to a wearable part configured for placement on a portion of a human body; a flexible display unit connected to the wearable part through a coupling part; at least one curvature changer configured to alter a curvature of at least a portion of the flexible display unit; and a curvature holder configured to maintain the curvature of the at least a portion of the flexible display unit once the curvature is altered by the at least one curvature changer.


The flexible display unit may be configured to be driven in a first mode in which the curvature of the at least a portion of the flexible display unit corresponds to the curvature of the wearable part, and in a second mode that the curvature of the at least a portion of the flexible display unit is smaller than the curvature of the at least a portion of the flexible display unit when in the first mode.


The curvature changer may include at least one of an electroactive polymer, a shape memory alloy, a shape memory polymer, a mechanical actuator, and an electrical actuator.


The curvature holder may include at least one of an Electro-Rheological (ER) fluid and a Magneto-Rheological (MR) fluid.


2 Samsung smart bracelet figs 1  2 & 3

Samsung's patent FIG. 1 noted above is a perspective view of a wearable display device that includes a flexible display unit #100 and a worn part #200.


The worn part may be configured of a material such as a plastic, a metal, a rubber, or another material that is harmless to a human body.


The worn part can be in any form as long as it can be worn on the user's wrist. An attachable or detachable magnet (not shown) may be included at both ends of the worn part of the present exemplary embodiment, thereby providing ease of removal for the user.


The worn part may include a coupling part #210 as a selective element further described in patent FIG. 4.


The flexible display unit is a display unit having a flexible characteristic rather than a rigid characteristic using a flexible plastic such as a polyimide, rather than glass, as its insulation substrate.


The flexible display unit provides images to the user through display screen, like any general display device. The flexible display unit may further include a touch function as implemented by a touch screen panel (TSP) or may be realized by an in-cell type or an on-cell type.


Samsung's patent FIG. 4 below is a view showing a worn part that may selectively include coupling part #210. The coupling part may be coupled to the protrusion on the backside of the flexible display unit (not shown). The protrusion and coupling hole may form, for example, a snap-fit connector allowing the flexible display unit to be removably attached to the worn part.



Further, one or both of the protrusion and the coupling part may include a material having magnetism, to allow the two to be magnetically attached to, and detached from, each other.


Samsung's patent FIG. 5 is a view showing a state in which a flexible display unit is rotated while it is still attached to the worn part, and is shown here after being rotated into a horizontal screen mode.


The user may rotate the flexible display unit to view images that are wider than they are tall. To realize the horizontal screen mode shown in FIG. 5, it may be preferable that at least one curvature changer is oriented perpendicular to the orientation of the curvature changers 110 shown in FIG. 3.


Samsung's patent FIG. 9 below is a view to explain a display area of a flexible display unit that is in the second mode. Accordingly, at least a portion of the flexible display unit is unfolded so that its curvature is close to 0.



Samsung's patent FIG. 6A and FIG. 6B noted above are views to explain a shape change of a curvature changer according to an applied voltage, for an exemplary embodiment of the present invention.


Patent FIGS. 6A and 6B show a curvature changer #110 configured as an ionic electroactive polymer #113, however they may include at least one from among a shape memory alloy, shape memory polymer, mechanical actuator, electric actuator, dielectric electroactive polymer, or the like.


Samsung originally filed for this patent in the U.S. in August 2015 that was granted to them on October 10th.


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