Samsung isn’t the only one messing around with flexible displays. Motorola recently published a patent describing technology for illuminating a rollable, flexible display–furthering speculation that the company could be delving into wearable tech.
The language used in the patent describes the technology for use in an electronic device that sounds suspiciously like a smartwatch. In one of its claims, Motorola says the flexible display would feature an “overlap area,” and that the bendable screen would be smart enough to only illuminate the areas that don’t overlap.
This display would also be able to support one or more illumination modes, one of which would be able to provide enough light to illuminate the area around the device itself. The display can also detect how its being manipulated and illuminate the screen accordingly. So, for instance, if you roll up the display, it will know to illuminate the outer surface rather than the inside.
The flexible display detailed in the document is capable of being rolled into a “tube-like or oblique” shape, Motorola says. The Google-owned company specifies that this rollable display would be able to carry out the functions of a mobile device, saying that it will feature a graphical user interface that can be navigated by touch. The electronic device that would utilize this flexible display could include a camera and proximity sensors as well.
If the technology described in the patent is intended for a smartwatch, it wouldn’t be the first time Motorola has launched such a device. The MOTOACTV watch released in 2011 is largely focused on sports and features an integrated heart monitor, a touch screen display, and the ability to control music and connect to Wi-Fi. It features a touch screen watch face attached to a wristband like most smartwatches on the market, but Motorola’s patented technology sounds like its capable of wrapping a touchscreen display around your wrist. Meanwhile, Google is rumored to debut a smartwatch dubbed “Gem” alongside Android 4.4 KitKat. The device is said to integrate heavily with Google Now, although Google hasn’t announced any plans to release a smartwatch.
At the same time, flexible technologies are making their way into smartphones as well. Both LG and Samsung have launched handsets with curved displays, and both companies are also developing flexible batteries. Bendable displays have been around for quite some time, but hardware limitations have prevented an actual flexible phone from being possible.