No more charging! Apple’s iWatch may include a flexible, solar-powered screen

Apple iWatch

Apple has filed a U.S. patent that describes a watch-like device, further feeding the rumor mill surrounding the mysterious and speculative iWatch.

The patent describes the device as a wearable computer that can double as a wristwatch. The bracelet would be of the slap variety, meaning that it would lay flat until the flat part is slapped against the user’s wrist. The slap-band would then curl around and secure itself on the user’s wrist. It’s a perfect form factor for this sort of device, much simpler than a conventional, adjustable watchband. 

The band would function more as an accessory than a separate device, requiring an iPhone to reach its full potential. Perhaps one day our smartphones will be wearable, but it seems like we have a bit longer to wait on that front. 

In the application, Apple outlines several different uses for the accessory that go far beyond telling the time as Patently Apple describes:

“Apple states that with a multitouch display, the user ‘can accomplish a number of different tasks including adjusting the order of a current playlist, or reviewing a list of recent phone calls. A response to a current text message can even be managed  given a simple virtual keyboard…’ According to Apple, a larger display is also more desirable for map viewing… a traveler or explorer can easily reference the information with a flick of the wrist…”

Other features mentioned in the patent include the ability to view high quality video streams (of course), a light for bike riding, and a backlit colored border. There is also mention of a sensor that will turn off unused sections of the display when worn on smaller wrists. This particular feature would play side-by-side with accelerometers and gyroscopes meant to ensure content stays visible no matter how the wrist is turned. 

The other noteworthy piece of information is how Apple plans to power the device. The first method involves a solar panel hiding out underneath the curved display. The second method would presumably compliment the first, using kinetic energy technology already used in watches to juice up the device. Both methods working in tandem would certainly provide enough power to keep you away from the outlet, especially given how much we move our arms throughout the day. 

As always, a patent application doesn’t necessarily result in an actual product, but one this detailed is hard to ignore. It’s especially suspicious with all of the rumors swirling around about the iWatch right now. Check out an image from Patently Apple below.