We all know that flexible PC boards have been around for a while, in fact I can remember using them in avionics back in the 80s. More recently we have seen other aspects of an electronic system becoming more flexible. Apple clearly sees that before long, touch screen displays will be flexible and allow iDevices to be created that can take on different form factors. Yesterday, Apple had a patent application publish (notes – this does not mean that the patent has been awarded, only that the application has been published for everyone to see) that talks about the capabilities that such a device may have. The application number is 20130044215. The abstract states: A wearable accessory device is disclosed. The wearable accessory device includes a flexible display coupled to a bi-stable spring. Coupling the display to the bi-stable spring allows the accessory device to be easily worn in a number of convenient locations.
Claim 1 is a very interesting claim in that it talks about several ways in which such a device could be used:
A wearable video device arranged to be worn by an end-user, comprising: a flexible substrate having a flat state and a curled state; a flexible display disposed upon a first surface of the flexible substrate, wherein in the curled state the flexible substrate conforms to an appendage of the end-user, the flexible substrate further comprising: an electronic module in communication with the flexible display, the electronic module providing information to the display, at least a part of which is presented in real time for presentation by the flexible display; and a mechanism for detecting an end portion of the flexible display, the detection for adjusting the arrangement of information shown on the flexible display to match the size of the appendage the wearable video device is mounted on.
Now aspects of this patent have appeared in the past and even in patents that have been granted. This is why the Apple application has to combine certain elements together where only one aspect of it has to be fully new and unique. In this case it appears to be the use of a continuous flexible display that can be used in several form factors. The other factor that they talk about quite a lot but do not mention in the first claim is the use of a bi-stable springs.
Brian Bailey – keeping you entertained
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