While most companies tend to try to cram stuff on a smartwatch’s tiny screen, IBM is approaching wearable design in a different way.
According to a new IBM U.S. patent titled ‘Variable Display Size For an Electronic Display Device,’ the company is planning to add multiple screens to a smartwatch.
The patent’s illustration shows a smartwatch-like device with a bezel-less screen that is capable of displaying basic information like time, weather and app shortcuts; all features that are commonly found on pretty much every smartwatch on the market.
In order to see more content on the smartwatch, IBM plans to fit multiple expanding screens with sliding panels underneath the main screen. These panels can be removed and connected to expand the main screen into a four-by-four display array, hence allowing the watch to display smartphone-level applications.
The patent suggests that this expandable display array can fit up to eight connected panels, which could turn your smartwatch into a giant folding tablet.
The patent also goes into detail regarding how applications and widgets would work across different display modules. What it doesn’t cover is how these displays would connect and disconnect.
Smartwatches have typically been positioned as an add-on or accessory to a smartphone. Many of them need to be tethered to a smartphone in order to function normally. Having a second display on a wearable might just change how people view these little gadgets.
However, the technology needed for a multi-display watch doesn’t exist yet. Since IBM has suspended or sold most of its consumer hardware divisions, it is hard to imagine how a service-based tech company would pull off a design like this. It’s also important to note that just because a patent has been filed it doesn’t mean the technology will actually ever make its way to a commercial product.