Apple patent filing reveals work on circular displays for Apple Watch

Posted:
in General Discussion edited December 2016
A pair of Apple patent filings published Thursday reveal ongoing research into circular displays suitable for wearable devices, suggesting the company was at least mulling the creation of a round-faced Apple Watch.




According to two patent applications (1, 2) published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, both titled "Electronic device having display with curved edges," Apple was actively investigating non-rectangular device displays as recently as January of this year. More specifically, the documents' claims outline driver technology and other contingencies for powering a circular display.

Apple's proposed solution for circular display technology is fairly straightforward and borrows a general architecture from traditional rectangular displays. In some embodiments, the display sits in a housing surrounded by an inactive border region where driver circuitry, interconnect lines and other supporting hardware are hidden.




Like displays deployed in iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch, the proposed circular model would incorporate an array of pixels arranged in columns and rows. To accommodate an overall circular shape with least four curved edges, pixel columns and rows in the proposed panel may have different lengths.

The length of gate driver circuitry, or gate lines, are likewise of staggered length depending on their placement within the display architecture. Unlike common displays, Apple proposes folding data lines back on themselves, causing them to pass through two or more pixel columns and in some cases overlap. This arrangement saves space and reduces crowding, while at the same time addressing all pixels in the active area.




Considering Apple has committed to a rectangular display and chassis design with Apple Watch, it is unlikely that the company will debut a circular variant in the near future. It is interesting, however, to see evidence of research into potential design variations.

While the first smartwatch devices featured what amounted to shrunken down smartphone displays, manufacturers later dabbled with circular or semi-circular designs to set their product apart from a raft of nearly identical hardware. Of note, Motorola was one of the first to bring a circular panel (minus a crescent-shaped cutout for display circuitry) to market with the Moto 360, which was followed by current devices like Samsung's Gear S2 and S3, and LG's Watch Urbane series.

The first of Apple's circular watch display patent applications was filed for in December 2015 and credits Chin-Wei Lin, Zhen Zhang, Shih Chang Chang and Sang Ha Kim as its inventors. A revised application filed in January 2016 credits Yu Cheng Chen, Tsung-Ting Tsai and Shih Chang Chang as inventors.
TomE

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    Apple researches lots of things. Doesn't mean they all come to market. Look at all the patent applications Apple has on VR like goggles.
    repressthistmay
  • Reply 2 of 12
    TomETomE Posts: 141member
    A Round faced Watch would be Nice.

    repressthis
  • Reply 3 of 12
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,178member
    They were working on that long before they decided on the original Watch design.
  • Reply 4 of 12
    mobiusmobius Posts: 377member
  • Reply 5 of 12
    Soli said:
    They were working on that long before they decided on the original Watch design.
    And since they have these patents, they can be licensed to other companies.
  • Reply 6 of 12
    Garmin do a very good job with circular displays :-)
  • Reply 7 of 12
    I wouldn't mind a traditional form for the Apple Watch instead of the shrunken iPhone / iPad form. 
  • Reply 8 of 12
    A pair of Apple patent filings published Thursday reveal ongoing research into circular displays suitable for wearable devices, suggesting the company was at least mulling the creation of a round-faced Apple Watch.


    Gawd no...say it ain't so.  There is a reason computer screens are rectangular and not round.  My Cartier Panthere and Cartier Tank Americaine are rectangular as is the Cartier Santos which was Jony Ivy's initial inspiration.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
    edited December 2016 cali
  • Reply 9 of 12
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    mobius said:
    THIS Is what it would look like:



     Oops that's a Samsung galaxy gear. 
    Soli
  • Reply 10 of 12
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,449member
    stanhope said:
    A pair of Apple patent filings published Thursday reveal ongoing research into circular displays suitable for wearable devices, suggesting the company was at least mulling the creation of a round-faced Apple Watch.




    According to two patent applications (1, 2) published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, both titled "Electronic device having display with curved edges," Apple was actively investigating non-rectangular device displays as recently as January of this year. More specifically, the documents' claims outline driver technology and other contingencies for powering a circular display.

    Apple's proposed solution for circular display technology is fairly straightforward and borrows a general architecture from traditional rectangular displays. In some embodiments, the display sits in a housing surrounded by an inactive border region where driver circuitry, interconnect lines and other supporting hardware are hidden.




    Like displays deployed in iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch, the proposed circular model would incorporate an array of pixels arranged in columns and rows. To accommodate an overall circular shape with least four curved edges, pixel columns and rows in the proposed panel may have different lengths.

    The length of gate driver circuitry, or gate lines, are likewise of staggered length depending on their placement within the display architecture. Unlike common displays, Apple proposes folding data lines back on themselves, causing them to pass through two or more pixel columns and in some cases overlap. This arrangement saves space and reduces crowding, while at the same time addressing all pixels in the active area.




    Considering Apple has committed to a rectangular display and chassis design with Apple Watch, it is unlikely that the company will debut a circular variant in the near future. It is interesting, however, to see evidence of research into potential design variations.

    While the first smartwatch devices featured what amounted to shrunken down smartphone displays, manufacturers later dabbled with circular or semi-circular designs to set their product apart from a raft of nearly identical hardware. Of note, Motorola was one of the first to bring a circular panel (minus a crescent-shaped cutout for display circuitry) to market with the Moto 360, which was followed by current devices like Samsung's Gear S2 and S3, and LG's Watch Urbane series.

    The first of Apple's circular watch display patent applications was filed for in December 2015 and credits Chin-Wei Lin, Zhen Zhang, Shih Chang Chang and Sang Ha Kim as its inventors. A revised application filed in January 2016 credits Yu Cheng Chen, Tsung-Ting Tsai and Shih Chang Chang as inventors.
    A pair of Apple patent filings published Thursday reveal ongoing research into circular displays suitable for wearable devices, suggesting the company was at least mulling the creation of a round-faced Apple Watch.




    According to two patent applications (1, 2) published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, both titled "Electronic device having display with curved edges," Apple was actively investigating non-rectangular device displays as recently as January of this year. More specifically, the documents' claims outline driver technology and other contingencies for powering a circular display.

    Apple's proposed solution for circular display technology is fairly straightforward and borrows a general architecture from traditional rectangular displays. In some embodiments, the display sits in a housing surrounded by an inactive border region where driver circuitry, interconnect lines and other supporting hardware are hidden.




    Like displays deployed in iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch, the proposed circular model would incorporate an array of pixels arranged in columns and rows. To accommodate an overall circular shape with least four curved edges, pixel columns and rows in the proposed panel may have different lengths.

    The length of gate driver circuitry, or gate lines, are likewise of staggered length depending on their placement within the display architecture. Unlike common displays, Apple proposes folding data lines back on themselves, causing them to pass through two or more pixel columns and in some cases overlap. This arrangement saves space and reduces crowding, while at the same time addressing all pixels in the active area.




    Considering Apple has committed to a rectangular display and chassis design with Apple Watch, it is unlikely that the company will debut a circular variant in the near future. It is interesting, however, to see evidence of research into potential design variations.

    While the first smartwatch devices featured what amounted to shrunken down smartphone displays, manufacturers later dabbled with circular or semi-circular designs to set their product apart from a raft of nearly identical hardware. Of note, Motorola was one of the first to bring a circular panel (minus a crescent-shaped cutout for display circuitry) to market with the Moto 360, which was followed by current devices like Samsung's Gear S2 and S3, and LG's Watch Urbane series.

    The first of Apple's circular watch display patent applications was filed for in December 2015 and credits Chin-Wei Lin, Zhen Zhang, Shih Chang Chang and Sang Ha Kim as its inventors. A revised application filed in January 2016 credits Yu Cheng Chen, Tsung-Ting Tsai and Shih Chang Chang as inventors.
    Gawd no...say it ain't so.  There is a reason computer screens are rectangular and not round.  My Cartier Panthere and Cartier Tank Americaine are rectangular as is the Cartier Santos which was Jony Ivy's initial inspiration.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
    What does a computer screen have to do with a fashion-oriented item like a wrist-watch designed for brief "glances" of information?  For that matter, who said anything was "broke", or needed to be fixed? And Cartier makes far more round watches than rectangular. Cartier also has almost 500 models currently in production. So if Cartier is the example Apple should follow, seems like a round variation would fit right in as a next step evolution to fill out their model lineup, giving the customer even greater choice for products they wear, which are most often dictated by fashion over function.
  • Reply 11 of 12
    mj webmj web Posts: 918member
    Well past due!
  • Reply 12 of 12
    dk49dk49 Posts: 16member
    Jony Ive said that Apple Watch display had to rectangular because of various reasons..he was defending that decision..and Apple wont admit now that they made a wrong decision (if at all it is wrong/inferior). Software changes like Watch OS 3 are still within Apple's admittance range I guess, but reversal of major hardware decision..I am not sure..

    I personally think that round displays can't be fully utilized by the software like rectangular ones..and space is already a premium on the watch.
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