IBM has filed a patent for a smartwatch with a screen which can be folded out into a tablet mode – you heard it right.
The design looks bizarre and impractical but it’s so an idea so strange it can’t be ignored. The new patent from IBM shows off a folding hybrid device which seems to be comprised of eight mini-screens placed on top of each other with the ability to be folded out into various sizes.
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The patent was discovered by LetsGoDigital – which they used to create more true-to-life renders of the filing. The initial mode seems to look like a regular smartwatch – presumably a bit thicker than the norm if it’s multiple screens folded up. The second mode showcases the watch with a screen four times the size with the final mode a 4 x 2 screen set up.
It isn’t clear from the patent if the smartwatch is intended to be removed from your wrist at any point as it seems quite restrictive to only be able to use one hand on a tablet-sized screen. The screens also look extremely thin when folded out.
Obviously mulling over the practicalities of this wondrous device is a bit of a moot point as patents often rarely come to light, especially with a company like IBM which doesn’t usually release products like this.
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The name of the device on the patent is “Variable display size for an electronic display device”. There’s no mention of the wrist strap shown in the patent images. The screen aspect of the technology is possibly the most exciting. If a screen could adapt and fold like the one in this patent but absent of a wrist strap then it could see smart devices being neatly tucked away in wallets in the future.
Patents relating to folding screens seem to crop up several times a month right now. A company currently without a foldable phone offering – Google – recently patented a device which looks like it would some hold have pages of screens.