NPR : News

Filed Under:

Watch Out: Apple Patent Hints At Something For Your Wrist

The rumor mill has been churning out speculation about what's next from Apple. The latest fodder comes from the Apple Insider blog, which found an Apple patent filing pointing to a smart watch with a flexible touchscreen display.

So it seems Apple is throwing the traditional watch look out the window and bringing back the slap bracelet.

Apple filed an application for a "Bi-stable spring with flexible display" with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in August 2011.

The application describes a design that has a flexible display with a strap made of a bi-stable spring made of thin steel. When worn, the watch's "on-board sensors, like gyroscopes and accelerometers, would aid in orienting the screen's information toward the user," Apple Insider noted.

This information still leaves a lot of room for further designing and determining the watch's capabilities. According to Bloomberg, 100 product designers are working on the new watch, which many Apple watchers have dubbed the iWatch. "The team's size suggests Apple is beyond the experimentation phase in its development," Bloomberg said.

Other companies are also interested in bringing smart watches to market. Samsung, one of Apple's largest smartphone competitors, may also be working on one, if rumored leaks are to be believed.

Lunatik debuted as a Kickstarter project in 2010; the company provides iPod Nano owners with a mount and strap to change their device into a watch for $20 to $50. Pebble, also once a Kickstarter, is a $150 smart watch compatible with iPhones and Android that contains a few of its own apps, but is mostly supported by Bluetooth technology.

The eerily Apple-esque i'm Watch from Italy has similar abilities as smartphones, with built-in speakers and a microphone; all information is stored in the "i'm Cloud." With all that hardware, the design is bulky and costs about $400.

Wearable technology seems to be a rising trend, most notably with Google reaching out to the public for ideas for its Glass project. ABI Research estimates that by 2018 — just five years from now — sales of wearable computing devices will hit 485 million units, NPR's Steve Henn notes.

"But smart devices on your eyes or your wrist aren't the only changes in store," Steve says. "A startup called Sonitus could replace your ear buds and Bluetooth cyborg accessory with a device you slip over your molars. It uses bone conduction in your head to transmit sound. Google filed a patent to use bone conduction in connection with Google Glass."

Pretty soon, carrying around a smartphone will be so old school.

Lizzy Duffy is an intern on NPR's Social Media Desk.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit


In Trove Of Kids' Book Treasures, A Glimpse Of The Work Behind The Magic

Once a doctor's hobby, the Kerlan Collection is now one of the world's great collections of children's literature. Over 100,000 books offer visitors a chance to see the writer's process — for free.

Good Gourd! What's With All The Weird-Looking Squash?

Cinderella pumpkins just don't cut it for fall decor anymore. Squash and gourds come in all sorts of colors and sizes — and as far as consumers are concerned, the stranger, the better.

Chaffetz Says He Wants To Replace Boehner As House Speaker

The Utah Republican says he's a better choice for the job than Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

#MemeOfTheWeek: That Article From The Onion About Mass Shootings

The article reveals what the writers really feel about mass shootings in America, something mainstream media couldn't do.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.