Today, the US Patent and Trademark Office published a patent application from Apple that packs a punch. The inventions in the filing cover a new Apple Watch design and a possible HDTV. In 2012, Patently Apple reported on Corning’s new highly flexible and strong “Willow Glass,” as shown in our cover graphic, Apple notes in today’s patent filing that “a flexible glass substrate copy is manufactured under the trade name WILLOW glass by Corning Incorporated located in Corning, NY” A bit timely given that we just released a report titled “Apple rewards Corning’s first investment from its advanced manufacturing fund as promised” The mention of an HDTV is also quite timely given that Foxconn is likely to announce a large panel display factory in the US later this year, an idea that was first pitched to the president. elected Trump in early January.
Possible redesign of Apple Watch
Apple notes that its patent covers exemplary system applications, including portable, rollable, and foldable displays. From Apple’s patent FIG 11 shown below, we can see an all-new watch design that features a single continuous flexible display covering both the face and the strap. It’s an idea that Apple has been working on since 2015.
Apple further notes that in one embodiment, the wearable electronic device is a smartwatch including a watch face, strap, and clasp. A flexible display panel #215, #315 (noted above) can be integrated into the smartwatch so that it covers both the watch face and the strap. According to embodiments of the invention, a bezel width surrounding the display panels can be minimized, for example less than 4-5 mm or even less than 1 mm, less than 0.5 mm, or eliminated.
A module within the watch includes a processor and memory for managing the wearable electronic device and executing or interpreting instructions and commands for the wearable electronic devices.
The module may also include a communication module. In one embodiment, the communication module may further include wireless transceivers for Bluetooth or WLAN connectivity, and may further include one or more WWAN transceivers. to communicate with a wide area network including a cellular data network.
In one embodiment, the operations further include receiving a configuration of the watch face and strap flexible display panel, receiving a design from the derived data (e.g., design type watch comprising a watch dial and a watch strap), and update the flexible display panel covering the watch face and the smart watch band with the design received.
Apple’s patent FIG. 5A is a front view schematic illustration of a display substrate comprising an array of #214 LEDs and #216 microchips in a display.
According to Apple, the patent FIG. 17 noted below “illustrates a #1700 system diagram for an embodiment of a display system (e.g., television) comprising a flexible display panel #1710.”
Whatever type of “television” Apple envisions, it may not be conventional. For one, it will contain a flexible battery. Apple specifically notes that “The system also includes a 1780 power module (e.g. flex, wired or wireless charging circuitsetc.), a 1708 peripheral interface, and one or more 1790 external ports (eg, Universal Serial Bus (USB), HDMI, Display Port, and/or others).
Second, Apple notes that “In one embodiment, the display system includes a #1712 communications module configured to interface with the external port(s). For example, the communications module may include one or more transceivers- receivers operating in accordance with IEEE standards, 3GPP Standardsor other communication standards, and configured to receive and transmit data through the external port(s).
Apple illustrates a TV early in the patent, but its reference is in the context of what Apple wants to improve and not necessarily the design of its possible future TV. But it is clear that the invention covers a television as they noted in the patent.
For the record, the vast majority of the patent filing is for a smartwatch, with the TV only covering around 5% of the patent. It is therefore certainly not the priority of this invention.
And one more thing, Patently Apple released a report last month titled “Korea’s Deep Paranoia Sets In As Apple Considers Supply Shift To China, Apple Watch 3 Goes Micro-LED”. Today’s patent filing covers Micro-LED as follows: “In one aspect, embodiments of the invention describe display panels and display module packaging configurations in which devices micro LEDs and/or microchips are transferred and bonded to wiring using an electrostatic transfer head assembly.”
Apple’s invention is noted as having been filed in January 2017.
It should be noted that this is not a design patent, so a possible new Apple Watch design doesn’t have to look like the one pictured in the patent filing. Utility patents only provide us with an overall concept and not the actual design. Apple has plenty of design ideas for the Apple Watch, as shown in our archive here.
The concept displayed in the patent issued today is just one of many, although extending a display to the band is one of Apple’s themes. Additionally, Apple acquired LuxVue regarding its Micro-LED technologies and ideas on how to implement this future display market.
Earlier this month, Patently Apple published a report titled “Back in Samsung Seeks to Join Micro-LED Display Race with Apple, Sony and Oculus.” In that report, we noted that the Korea Herald reported that “Samsung is seeking to acquire Taiwan’s PlayNitide, a micro-LED maker for an estimated $150 million. The report notes that”Apple would consider using the screen for its new devices, including Apple Watch, and eventually for the iPhoneAccording to their report, it’s clear that the industry thinks Apple will surprise them one day with a micro-LED-based Apple Watch or other products like a head-mounted display.
If Apple plans to use Micro-LED displays for a future watch, it will need to rely on LuxVue’s expertise and technology, as outlined in the patent report released today. Apple knew this was a future trend and they acquired LuxVue in 2014.
One of LuxVue’s key engineers is currently Apple’s director of engineering and product development. Obviously, micro-LEDs will play a future role in Apple’s product line and with LuxVue’s top engineer working on future products, we can safely assume that Apple Watch could be where it might surface for the first time.
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