We’ve been hearing about the possibility of an iWatch since the Golden Age of Steve Jobs, but there’s never been any hard evidence that such a thing was actually being seriously considered. In many ways, it feels like the natural evolution of mobile technology (your apps will always be readily available on your wrist!), but at the same time, it seems really, really dumb (I imagine people talking into the watches like a junior spy in a ’70s children’s cartoon and I giggle a little). But now, for better or for worse, we now have our first piece of hard evidence that the Apple folks are working on iWatch: they’ve filed a patent for a “Bi-stable spring with flexible display.”
In English: a slap bracelet with a touch screen.
Surely you know what a slap bracelet is — those seemingly solid, rubbery slips that, when applied with force, wrap around your wrist (or ankle or appendance of your choosing). For you entertainment, here is how Apple’s patent filing describes this technology:
“The most recent widespread use of such a device was the slap bracelet, also called the slap wrap. The slap bracelet consists of layered flexible steel bands sealed within a fabric cover. Typical slap bracelets are roughly one inch in width by nine inches in length. In a first equilibrium position they can be flat. The second equilibrium is typically reached by slapping the flat embodiment across the wrist, at which point the bracelet curls around the wrist and stays relatively secure in a roughly circular position.”
Okay, so Apple likes slap bracelets. But what’s next?
What if you took that slap bracelet and transformed the surface into an extremely flexible surface that would bend and go rigid with your touch? What if you built the necessary electronic components into the bendable metal frame of the bracelet to transform this bracelet into a genuine iDevice? What if this bendable iDevice would would then communicate with your iPhone or your iPad, letting you check Twitter, send Facebook messages or change music playlists just by tapping on your wrist? What if, when “unfolded,” the rigid bracelet became one large screen, letting you treat it like its own individual device? The patent goes on to describe some of the potential applications of this bracelet:
“With a touch screen user input a user can accomplish a number of different tasks including adjusting the order of a current playlist, and reviewing a list of recent phone calls. A response to a current text message can even be managed given a simple virtual keyboard configuration across the face of the flexible display.”
If they can pull this off, this will be exactly the bonkers, out-there idea that Apple needs to redefine themselves in a post-Jobs world. What I especially like about this concept is that it’s not being proposed as a replacement for your phone or tablet, but rather an accessory that will allow you to interact with them in new (and hopefully exciting) ways. An iPhone on your wrist is stupid, but a watch that communicate with you iPhone and allow for all kinds of new experiences is exciting stuff.
(Do you have a great app idea? Rocksauce Studios wants to help you make it!)