Wednesday, April 10, 2024

IBM patents a smartwatch that folds out into smartphone and tablet

In the past few months, we have seen the smartphone world going crazy about foldable phones. All thanks to the folding screen technology, which not only allows the device to remain relatively compact and pocketable but also improves functionality and usability with a screen that can double in size to facilitate advanced multitasking features. However, they have yet to make their way into the consumer’s pocket.

IBM, one of the biggest names in the technology world, is thinking 3-4 steps ahead of it and focused on bringing the same technology on wearables. The company has successfully patented a smartwatch that can actually transform into a wrist-mounted phone or tablet. The concept seems a bit improbable today but could become real soon with advances in display technology.

The patent illustrates a smartwatch with a tall, nearly bezel-free screen – that’s larger than the displays of most current devices – capable of displaying some basic information like the time, weather details, and a few shortcuts to other apps.

The smartwatch has a unique expanding screen system that contains seven additional display panels hidden beneath the wearable’s main housing. These panels can be unfolded from the hidden housing to transform the wearable into a 4-panel smartphone or an 8-panel tablet.

Depicts an electronic display device in third display configuration, according to embodiment
Depicts an electronic display device in a third display configuration, according to embodiments

As the device opened up, the UI (user interface) changes accordingly to show larger icons and bigger images. The device will be into the tablet mode with all the 8 panels opened up. And if we talk about the size, each panel measures around 3-inches by 2-inches.

The IBM patent, titled “Variable Display Size For an Electronic Display Device”, suggests that this device will have a single speaker unit and can work with an optional mouse and physical keyboard. It gives detailed information about how the app and widgets will work across the assembled screens. However, there appear to be no details over how these tiny screens would connect and disconnect, how they’d each be powered, and how they’d all communicate with each other.

As per a report by LetsGoDigital, the patents were actually applied by IBM over three years back.

The idea seems very interesting and could help smartwatches live up to their full potential of being a great alternative to reaching for our smartphones every few minutes.