UK startup SnapWatch has unveiled its first prototype of a wristband display, effectively the combination of a steel snapband with a flexible electronic display.
Marketed as the SnapWatch to surf on the overhyped smartwatch wave, the wristband comes with a bistable electrochromic display developed by Swedish supplier Acreo.
On its website, the company mentions prototypes that incorporate watch, music replay, and message display. From the mechanics disclosed, it looks as if the display would be controlled through two push-buttons situated at one extremity of the steel snapband together with the encapsulated electronics.
No mentions are made about connectivity or interactivity with any other device, but the novelty worth patenting, according to SnapWatch's CEO Vincent Douglas, is this fairly low-cost combination of a bistable and flexible display with a bistable steel snap band (and their integration with a control unit into a wrist-band form factor).
Is this the next step in wearables?
The company has secured its intellectual property with several patents granted in the UK, the US, China, and Europe and is looking for partners with application ideas to either license it or to purchase the IP altogether.
Some may not see such a device compete head-to-head with current smartwatch offerings that typically feature fairly good resolution full-color touch-screens and often Bluetooth Smart connectivity.
But combined with NFC capability, this approach to wearable flexible displays could certainly find interesting applications as a very low-cost and very low-power smart wrist-band, akin to ticketing, offering ID, timing, and schedule features for festivals and events of all sorts. It may even find its way as a fancy watch, or into some fitness or medical applications (add some combo MEMS sensors to it).
As a watch, its flexible display and snappy feature would certainly compete well with similar fashion offerings such as the colorful silicone-wrapped Slap Watch, featuring interchangeable clock faces mounted on a spring coil bracelet.
This could be a particularly low-cost item if both the display and the drivers can be printed, something that the company is exploring with a possible partnership with Cambridge-based firm Plastic Logic.
This story originally appeared on EE Times Europe.