Samsung’s next wearable might have a flexible display built into the wristband — and a camera. A new patent application filed by the Seoul, South Korea-based company shows a smartwatch with an edge-to-edge display that wraps around your wrist.
The patent, filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) this month, shows a prototypical watch design with wristband screen that shows shortcuts to the watch’s apps — there appear to be icons for an email client, a music player, a photo gallery, and settings.
SamMobile notes that it’s a little like the Edge feature on Samsung’s Galaxy S8, which uses smartphone screen’s curved edges to show notifications, shortcuts, and other content. If the proposed display’s anything like Edge, it would be highly customizable — presumably, you’d be able to swap between incoming messages, favorite contacts, widgets, recent apps, and more.
It’s a different tact than aftermarket accessories like the Rifft CT Band, which feature secondary displays built into the wristband. But the technology’s not unfeasible — Samsung’s Gear S has a curved screen, as does Microsoft’s discontinued Band 2.
Samsung’s prototypical smartwatch has another surprise: A camera. Like the company’s first-generation Gear smartwatch, which had a 2MP camera for wrist-level shots, Samsung’s proposed design features watchband-mounted sensor. But unlike the original Galaxy Gear, it’s described as sporting an optical zoom for higher-quality shots.
This month’s smartwatch patent follows on the heels of Samsung’s April design, which showed a smartwatch with a flexible secondary display on a rotary dial around the outer edge. It, like the wristband display, would show information like the current weather and recently played songs.
Samsung isn’t the only one exploring the idea of a camera-equipped smartwatch. In June, Apple filed a patent for watch with a camera “oriented to allow a users to capture images of nearby objects in the environment, such as a bar code or QR code.” And startup company Arrow’s proposed smartwatch featured a rotating bezel with an 8MP camera, replete with autofocus and HD video recording.
And Apple’s working on electronic watchbands of its own. Rumor has it that the Apple Watch Series 3 — expected to launch this fall — will feature interchangeable “smart bands” with sensors and other components.
But in curved-screen display tech, Samsung might have a leg up on the competition. In February, it filed a patent for a device with a mechanical hinge in the middle and a flexible screen that folds inwards. And at a conference last year in San Francisco the company demonstrated a flexible 5.7-inch, 1080p display that could roll up like a scroll.
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