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Apple patent filing points directly to 'iWatch' concept with flexible touchscreen display

post #1 of 43
Thread Starter 
A patent application discovered by AppleInsider on Thursday reveals Apple is indeed investigating a wearable accessory device that not only boasts a full-length flexible touchscreen display, but conforms to a user's body through the use of a "slap bracelet" mechanism.



Apple first filed its application for a "Bi-stable spring with flexible display" with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in August of 2011, describing a wearable accessory device that can be easily worn on a user's wrist or other body part. When active, the unit connects to a portable device via various communications protocols like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to show relevant information in real time on a flexible display that can wrap fully around a user's wrist. While the device itself can conform to nearly any appendage, a suitable location would be a user's wrist.

Instead of using clips or other cumbersome methods of attachment, Apple proposes the use of a bi-stable spring:

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.


According to the filing, in its most simplest form, the proposed invention involves embedding a flexible display, along with the necessary electronic components, into a conventional slap bracelet. The bi-stable spring would be made out of thin steel, which would then be wrapped in a fabric covering and heat sealed. The display would be overlaid with an adhesive over one side of the bracelet, while the device's logic board, battery and other parts are mounted to one end. By positioning the components in this manner, the bracelet would cover the vital electronics module when it is being worn.

Wearable Device
Source: USPTO


In another embodiment, the invention calls for a more robust design in which the flexible display is mounted directly to the bracelet and "framed" by a thicker, more comfortable fabric covering. Switches and critical electronics should also be resistant to fatigue, the patent notes, as the bracelet switches from a convex shape to a concave configuration depending on whether it is being worn by the user.

When in its "curled state," or otherwise attached to a user's arm, the bracelet can take on the form of an uninterrupted screen. On-board sensors, like gyroscopes and accelerometers, would aid in orienting the screen's information toward the user.

Wearable Device Display
Illustration of device with display (402), kinetic energy gathering device (502),
wireless antennas (506), connector, (508) and battery (504).


While the slap bracelet is the main underpinning discussed, the filing notes that any number of other materials can be used, with mechanisms such as snaps or velcro as used as attachment points. This leaves room for interpretations on the design, including more traditional watch interfaces.

As far as usability is concerned, the invention points out that the accessory doesn't need to be limited displaying information from a portable device like an iPhone, but can also interact with the handset at a basic level:

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.


Such interactive features are seen in basic form with existing "smart watches" like the Pebble, though Apple's patent extends the idea into more advanced iterations such as the viewing and control of digital maps.

Continuous Display
Illustration of continuous display in "curled state."


Apple's wearable display can be a truly universal fit, as an "end-detection" sensor provides a contingency for larger and smaller sized appendages. Located at one end of the device, the sensor can turn off the unused portion of the display that is covered when the bracelet overlaps for smaller users. In some embodiments, the touchscreen itself can be used as the end-detection sensor.

In addition, ambient light energy collectors, commonly referred to as solar panels, as well as kinetic energy gathering devices can be included onto the bracelet to boost battery life. An AMOLED display can further enhance the unit's efficiency, though Apple has yet to deploy a product that uses the technology.

Communications are facilitated through wireless protocols, though the proposed unit also contains wired connectors for syncing and recharging the internal battery.

States
Cross section views of bracelet.


Thursday's patent application is tangible evidence that Apple is working on a so-called "iWatch." Rumors regarding the purported device have been heating up as many industry watchers say wearable computing is the next logical step for mobile technology.

There are multiple existing patents in Apple's quiver if it decides to build the proposed device, including a manufacturing process for curved glass, solar cell multitouch panels and "shake to charge" kinetic energy technology.

The filing credits Fletcher R. Rothkopf, Derek W. Wright and Scott A. Myers as its inventors.
post #2 of 43
What date will Samsung put onto their prototype designs? 2008?
post #3 of 43
@bro2ma Chances are, based on the prototype Samsung flexible display demos on YouTube that Apple will once again be using Samsung display technology, if not developed elsewhere. It takes companies like Apple to successfully introduce new technology/ideas, whether or not patented. Multi-touch, MagSafe, WiFi (PowerBooks where the first laptops with WiFi), TrackBall (PowerBook 100/140), Keyboard wrist pad (PowerBook) etc etc all come to mind.
post #4 of 43

Well I have a huge wrist so I guess I'll get more pixels that most.

post #5 of 43
Hmm so this could be the last invention that Steve Jobs wanted to create. Or did?
post #6 of 43

Why can an idea for a technology be patented ?!

 

This sounds like patenting the anti-gravity suit, and when someone actually develops the technology for it claiming : yes, that's exactly what I meant....

 

Samsung has shown for a couple of years actual technical implementation of flexible screen, this would only be a practical implementation of that technical invention.

post #7 of 43

 

I just wish it would become more than a watch.

 

http://successfulworkplace.com/2013/02/11/its-an-iphone-tim-but-not-as-we-know-it/

 

I really want Apple to disrupt the mobile phone industry again and split out more of the phone functionality into this and leave the actual large screen form factor as just the mobile and social window to the interwebs. I think the phone form should shrink again.

 

post #8 of 43
Incredibly, my company has been working on such a design concept for a few years off and on, and only in the last week discussed (in writing) a kinetic energy generation system and three days ago, a slap bracelet as one of several methods to attach the device to your wrist. Our designer even has a slap bracelet used as a promotional gift by a company who had their logo branded on it. He had had it for over a decade, so the slap bracelet concept is not new in general, just new for an electronic gadget.

Anyway, cannot believe the co-incidence!

Very painful to be an inventor, you think you have cracked it, only to find out someone else got to the patent office first. As they say, what a bummer. 1frown.gif
post #9 of 43

Quote:
Originally Posted by bro2ma View Post

What date will Samsung put onto their prototype designs? 2008?

 

Forget Samsung.  Bracelet phones are an old concept.  Using slap bracelet backing is an obvious variation, and predates Apple's 2011 application.  For example, see this concept from 2009 with flexible display:

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Douglas Bailey View Post

Well I have a huge wrist so I guess I'll get more pixels that most.

 

Actually, yes!  That's a primary claim in the patent:  a method of detecting where the screen overlaps, and containing the display to the viewable area.  (Again, very obvious.)

 

Of more interest, is the mention of a fabric cover.  There's everyone's answer to Apple not using plastic 1smile.gif  j/k


Edited by KDarling - 2/21/13 at 4:56am
post #10 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

 

Forget Samsung.  Bracelet phones are an old concept.  Using slap bracelet backing is an obvious variation, and predates Apple's 2011 application.  For example, see this concept from 2009 with flexible display:

 

 

 

 

 

Actually, yes!  That's a primary claim in the patent:  a method of detecting where the screen overlaps, and containing the display to the viewable area.  (Again, very obvious.)

 

Of more interest, is the mention of a fabric cover.  There's everyone's answer to Apple not using plastic 1smile.gif  j/k

The difference is.....while anyone can mock up a drawing with the idea. Look at the old black and white scifi movies..... It takes something altogether different to put the design and technology together and make it work......

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post #11 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

 

Forget Samsung.  Bracelet phones are an old concept.  Using slap bracelet backing is an obvious variation, and predates Apple's 2011 application.  For example, see this concept from 2009 with flexible display:

 

 

 

Actually, yes!  That's a primary claim in the patent:  a method of detecting where the screen overlaps, and containing the display to the viewable area.  (Again, very obvious.)

 

Of more interest, is the mention of a fabric cover.  There's everyone's answer to Apple not using plastic 1smile.gif  j/k

So this isn't a product that actually went to market....just a concept?

 

i hope we don't get anything like this from Apple.  A slap on watch doesn't interest me in the least.

post #12 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post

So this isn't a product that actually went to market....just a concept?

i hope we don't get anything like this from Apple.  A slap on watch doesn't interest me in the least.

I'm personally glad that it's looking like this rather than like the old Nano or Pebble.

This slap on concept has a lot more screen space and an overall cooler look.

If it looks like this I'll be in line to buy one:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1655017763/cst-01-the-worlds-thinnest-watch
post #13 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by geekdad View Post

The difference is.....while anyone can mock up a drawing with the idea. Look at the old black and white scifi movies..... It takes something altogether different to put the design and technology together and make it work......

 

There is no difference.  This patent is not a detailed design for such a device.  It could even be based on a non-working mockup.  Not that it matters, because...

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post

So this isn't a product that actually went to market....just a concept?

 

Prior art does not have to be marketed, nor even have to be operative, if it describes enough for anyone with ordinary skill to carry out the proposed invention.  The concept phone article does that in regards to using a slap bracelet as the substrate.

 

Which is why this is NOT a patent for a slap bracelet device.  It can't be.  There's both prior art and anticipation involved.

 

As I said, the primary claim is about making the display adjust to the visible portion, which would depend on the size of the appendage it's wrapped around.  

 

To anyone, that would be an obvious thing to implement.  Heck, someone already commented that they'd see more with a bigger wrist, and they probably hadn't even read the patent!

post #14 of 43
For all you young whipper snappers.
dicktracy.jpg
It's a pretty old idea
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post #15 of 43

Well at least this explains why Apple pulled the last generation iPod Nano, when it was doing so well and taking on new life as a watch, replacing it with an arguably worse concept.

post #16 of 43

To misquote: It's not the watch, it's the wrist, stupid. Sensors on the wrist can deliver significant medical and exercise information. If an Apple iWrist can provide me with biometrical info, I might have to wear it. And it’s not hard to see ahead, in the next five to ten years, that this info link gaining critical health and even insurance services. Add in the currently available emergency alerts on it for disabled and old folks. Sure, include a localized Siri and the iPod Nano feature set. Apple doesn’t do watches. It does platforms. And Apple loves the challenge of small and simple gear. And it loves disruption. Nobody does them better. At $200 it will sell a billiard.

 
 
  •  
post #17 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

... Thursday's patent application is tangible evidence that Apple is working on a so-called "iWatch." Rumors regarding the purported device have been heating up as many industry watchers say wearable computing is the next logical step for mobile technology. ...

 

Actually it totally is NOT "tangible evidence" that Apple is working on a(n) ... iWatch."

 

There is absolutely nothing about the patents at all that indicate it has anything to do with "watches" or time pieces at all.  AppleInsider, by following the herd of tech journalists in conceptualising this as an "iWatch" actually does a great dis-service to the concept, and to Apple itself.  

 

Apple is not making a "watch."  Apple is making a breakthrough wearable computer accessory (or trying to at least).  

 

For all the nimrods and feeble brained, narrow minded hacks to constantly refer to it as an ''iWatch" is both insulting to Apple as a company, and undermines the whole project by raising false expectations and by limiting discussion (and thought) on what this device could actually be used for.  

 

Take a tip from Jony Ive.   Words actually mean something, especially when thinking about design.  

You can bet that when the team first assembled at Apple headquarters to investigate this project, almost the first words spoken were "Okay, so first we have to stop thinking about it as a watch ..."

post #18 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

Actually it totally is NOT "tangible evidence" that Apple is working on a(n) ... iWatch."

There is absolutely nothing about the patents at all that indicate it has anything to do with "watches" or time pieces at all.  AppleInsider, by following the herd of tech journalists in conceptualising this as an "iWatch" actually does a great dis-service to the concept, and to Apple itself.  

Apple is not making a "watch."  Apple is making a breakthrough wearable computer accessory (or trying to at least).  

For all the nimrods and feeble brained, narrow minded hacks to constantly refer to it as an ''iWatch" is both insulting to Apple as a company, and undermines the whole project by raising false expectations and by limiting discussion (and thought) on what this device could actually be used for.  

Take a tip from Jony Ive.   Words actually mean something, especially when thinking about design.  
You can bet that when the team first assembled at Apple headquarters to investigate this project, almost the first words spoken were "Okay, so first we have to stop thinking about it as a watch ..."

Doesn't matter what they're actually making but what people think when they see the word. Watch is something synonymous with a device worn on one's wrist. For years wristwatches have done more than just tell time but they're still called that. iWatch sounds much better than iBracelet, and remember the iPhone is much more than a phone.
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post #19 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stef View Post


To misquote: It's not the watch, it's the wrist, stupid. Sensors on the wrist can deliver significant medical and exercise information. If an Apple iWrist can provide me with biometrical info, I might have to wear it. And it’s not hard to see ahead, in the next five to ten years, that this info link gaining critical health and even insurance services. Add in the currently available emergency alerts on it for disabled and old folks. Sure, include a localized Siri and the iPod Nano feature set. Apple doesn’t do watches. It does platforms. And Apple loves the challenge of small and simple gear. And it loves disruption. Nobody does them better. At $200 it will sell a billiard.


A good way to look at it, seems to me. Previous platforms:

1. Desk
2. Lap
3. Pocket
4.Clothing (clip-on shuffle/nano)
5. Hand

Future:

6. Arm
7. Head

Ears have been wired in since the beginning. The farther off future with the skin, retinae and nervous system are science fiction, not my thing.
post #20 of 43

Applying for a patent doesn't automaticlly mean Apple will make the thing. Apple makes prototypes of many devices and the iBlogoSphereIdiotHacks latches on to every morsel of rumor and assumes there an actiual devie coming. No news here.

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post #21 of 43

I thought Apple will never go into OLED?

 

Apple fans, care to explain?

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post #22 of 43
Originally Posted by Galbi View Post
Apple fans, care to explain?

 

Sure: Absolutely nothing involving OLED has been announced or released by Apple, therefore enjoy your worthless FUD and Apple-bashing while we decide how to proceed.

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post #23 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple first filed its application for a "Bi-stable spring with flexible display" with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in August of 2011, describing a wearable accessory device that can be easily worn on a user's wrist or other body part. When active, the unit connects to a portable device via various communications protocols like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to show relevant information in real time on a flexible display that can wrap fully around a user's wrist. While the device itself can conform to nearly any appendage...

I chuckled.

 


Quote:
Originally Posted by blackbook View Post


I'm personally glad that it's looking like this rather than like the old Nano or Pebble.

This slap on concept has a lot more screen space and an overall cooler look.

If it looks like this I'll be in line to buy one:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1655017763/cst-01-the-worlds-thinnest-watch

I want one of those but a base station seems like more work than it's worth. Charging through the base for 45 day battery life is good but having to use the base to change the time is not as clean as say having an app on your phone that can change it through bluetooth (although, admittedly, I don't know how bluetooth would alter the asthetic) or having the screen be a touch screen (don't know if e-ink allows for touch or to keep the thinness). I'd also like the font to be rotatable for those that want to adjust their arm traditionally to view the time. It's a great concept and a great looking watch. September can't come soon enough.

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post #24 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas Bailey View Post

Well I have a huge wrist so I guess I'll get more pixels that most.

 

I will buy 7 -- 2 for each arm, 1 for each leg and...

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post #25 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by alcstarheel View Post

I chuckled.

 


 

I want one of those but a base station seems like more work than it's worth. Charging through the base for 45 day battery life is good but having to use the base to change the time is not as clean as say having an app on your phone that can change it through bluetooth (although, admittedly, I don't know how bluetooth would alter the asthetic) or having the screen be a touch screen (don't know if e-ink allows for touch or to keep the thinness). I'd also like the font to be rotatable for those that want to adjust their arm traditionally to view the time. It's a great concept and a great looking watch. September can't come soon enough.

I agree the CST has it's drawbacks.

 

But I wouldn't be surprised if Apple's Watch-concept looks similar to the CST. 

 

I'm just glad that it'll look more like a band than like the old Nano or the Pebble. 

post #26 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Devil's Refugee View Post

 

I just wish it would become more than a watch.

 

http://successfulworkplace.com/2013/02/11/its-an-iphone-tim-but-not-as-we-know-it/

 

I really want Apple to disrupt the mobile phone industry again and split out more of the phone functionality into this and leave the actual large screen form factor as just the mobile and social window to the interwebs. I think the phone form should shrink again.

 

 

I agree with this.  When the iPhone was released it was the best combination of phone, music/video player, and Internet appliance in a single device.

 

Today, the iPads are better devices for music/video player, Internet appliance -- and all the apps, books, games, etc .that were not never existed for the original iPhone.

 

To be mobile, in today's world, the iPhone (or any smart phone), alone, isn't up to the job.   I want my iPad with me wherever I go.  I need a phone, too -- but just to make and receive phone calls.

 

Put the cell phone capability in an inexpensive wristband phone and connect it to the iPad via BT 4.0.

 

The iPad is the mobile device -- the wristband phone is the accessory. (Similar to a modem accessory to a computer).

 

Ideally, the wristband phone would cost $100-$200 unlocked with no carrier contract.

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post #27 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stef View Post


To misquote: It's not the watch, it's the wrist, stupid. Sensors on the wrist can deliver significant medical and exercise information. If an Apple iWrist can provide me with biometrical info, I might have to wear it. And it’s not hard to see ahead, in the next five to ten years, that this info link gaining critical health and even insurance services. Add in the currently available emergency alerts on it for disabled and old folks. Sure, include a localized Siri and the iPod Nano feature set. Apple doesn’t do watches. It does platforms. And Apple loves the challenge of small and simple gear. And it loves disruption. Nobody does them better. At $200 it will sell a billiard.


A good way to look at it, seems to me. Previous platforms:

1. Desk
2. Lap
3. Pocket
4.Clothing (clip-on shuffle/nano)
5. Hand

Future:

6. Arm
7. Head

Ears have been wired in since the beginning. The farther off future with the skin, retinae and nervous system are science fiction, not my thing.

 

Actually, you forgot [at least] one...  My grandmother in the 1950s and 1960s needed a hearing aid.  This was before the days of transistor radios.   She had a very expensive device with big batteries and an induction speaker cord that went to one ear.  AIR, the device was a little larger than the H/W size of the iPhone 1, twice as thick and a lot heavier.

 

Grandma stuffed the device into her bodice/bra.

 

Something like this:

 

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post #28 of 43

9to5Mac has a pretty good mockup of the Apple Patent device:

 

 

 

http://************/2013/02/21/is-apples-iwatch-a-slap-wrist-band-with-a-flexible-display/

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post #29 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

Actually, you forgot [at least] one...  My grandmother in the 1950s and 1960s needed a hearing aid.  This was before the days of transistor radios.   She had a very expensive device with big batteries and an induction speaker cord that went to one ear.  AIR, the device was a little larger than the H/W size of the iPhone 1, twice as thick and a lot heavier.

Grandma stuffed the device into her bodice/bra.

Something like this:



That's one nice looking granny.
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post #30 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

9to5Mac has a pretty good mockup of the Apple Patent device:

 

 

 

Their mockup looks like the Philips Fluid concept from 2010:

 

post #31 of 43
Nice to see A.I getting some proper credit.
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post #32 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

 

I will buy 7 -- 2 for each arm, 1 for each leg and...


And .... I am waiting to what the other 3 appendages are :)

post #33 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

 

Actually it totally is NOT "tangible evidence" that Apple is working on a(n) ... iWatch."

 

There is absolutely nothing about the patents at all that indicate it has anything to do with "watches" or time pieces at all.  AppleInsider, by following the herd of tech journalists in conceptualising this as an "iWatch" actually does a great dis-service to the concept, and to Apple itself.  

 

Apple is not making a "watch."  Apple is making a breakthrough wearable computer accessory (or trying to at least).  

 

For all the nimrods and feeble brained, narrow minded hacks to constantly refer to it as an ''iWatch" is both insulting to Apple as a company, and undermines the whole project by raising false expectations and by limiting discussion (and thought) on what this device could actually be used for.  

 

Take a tip from Jony Ive.   Words actually mean something, especially when thinking about design.  

You can bet that when the team first assembled at Apple headquarters to investigate this project, almost the first words spoken were "Okay, so first we have to stop thinking about it as a watch ..."

For your own sake, I hope you are being facetious. If words mean so much to you, please pay more attention to how and what you write.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post


Doesn't matter what they're actually making but what people think when they see the word. Watch is something synonymous with a device worn on one's wrist. For years wristwatches have done more than just tell time but they're still called that. iWatch sounds much better than iBracelet, and remember the iPhone is much more than a phone.

 

Indeed. After all, is MacBook just a book? Is iPad just a notepad?

post #34 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post


That's one nice looking granny.


Granny? Could be a girl from the current era wearing retro undergarments?

post #35 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

 

Their mockup looks like the Philips Fluid concept from 2010:

 

That doesn't surprise me. Apple is a master at turning product concepts into real products. The devil is in the details, and in execution.

post #36 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by KDarling View Post

Their mockup looks like the Philips Fluid concept from 2010:




That's interesting but according to the patent the screen on Apple's actual device is going to be continuous unlike the Philips concept.

Honestly the device Apple is envisioning wont look like anything else we've seen.
post #37 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by stelligent View Post

For your own sake, I hope you are being facetious. If words mean so much to you, please pay more attention to how and what you write.


Indeed. After all, is MacBook just a book? Is iPad just a notepad?

Oh yeah because MacBook was really original seeing as laptops were commonly known as notebook computers because they opened and closed like a book and many allowed to be written on with a stylus. They had more leeway naming the iPad because most people didn't know what tablets were nor that they existed before the iPad.
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post #38 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by blackbook View Post

That's interesting but according to the patent the screen on Apple's actual device is going to be continuous unlike the Philips concept.

 

Right, obviously I was comparing the shiny 9to5Mac concept with the Philips concept, because they both had the same basic hard shiny look.

 

The 9to5Mac version didn't follow this patent at all.  For one thing, it had no slap-band overlap.  It looks more like the Philips perfect bracelet shape.

 

Apple's patent description also keeps bringing up using a fabric covering on the inside for more comfort.

post #39 of 43
If it can activate the ejector seat in my car I'm all over it.
post #40 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by stelligent View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dick Applebaum View Post

 

I will buy 7 -- 2 for each arm, 1 for each leg and...


And .... I am waiting to what the other 3 appendages are :)

 

Punchline to an old joke:  "The tattoo reads 'Shorty's Bar and Grill, Albuquerque, New Mexico'"

"Swift generally gets you to the right way much quicker." - auxio -

"The perfect [birth]day -- A little playtime, a good poop, and a long nap." - Tomato Greeting Cards -
Reply
"Swift generally gets you to the right way much quicker." - auxio -

"The perfect [birth]day -- A little playtime, a good poop, and a long nap." - Tomato Greeting Cards -
Reply
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