Nokia files patent for smartwatch with multiple screens [Update]

Rumors of Nokia developing a smartwatch have seemingly been verified by a recent filing with the U.S. Patent & Trademark office, and it seems the company has unique plans for the device, should it get made.

Nokia's patent filing reveals a smartwatch that uses multiple screens to present information, with the various screens of the "multi-segment wearable accessory" being usable depending on the angle at which they're oriented. When a screen is facing a user, for instance, it would be open to touch input, whereas if it were faced away from the user the device could intelligently "determine whether to power down the display of the segment."

The filing states the screens would have a "wide variety of functions," with examples of one screen including "telephone functionality in order to support voice calls, music player functionality, game playing functionality, email or other messaging functionality, Facebook or other social media functionality or the like." Interestingly, the user would be able to designate certain information as private, only displaying when the screen is facing the user. Non-private information, such as "weather information, the time, an idle or lock screen, or advertisement information," could be seen on other screens by anyone, if desired.

According to the filing, which was submitted on Aug. 20, 2012, the watch would feature a processor, accelerometer, magnetometer and gyroscope, though other features could potentially be added if the device were to be made.

The filing's discovery comes on the heels of Samsung's Galaxy Gear release, and several major technology companies – including Microsoft  – are rumored to be working on their own smartwatches. Whether Nokia's multi-screen smartwatch is ever an actual product would depend on a variety of factors, as the company may simply be proactively filing the patent to defend the general design against competitors. With Nokia's devices and services division scheduled to be acquired by Microsoft early next year, it's also possible the two could combine their ideas into a single product, should they make a smartwatch.

Update: Engadget has uploaded a video of the smartwatch's concept version, provided by Kent Lyons, a principal researcher at Nokia. Additionally, an academic paper on the prototype can be purchased.

Source: U.S. Patent & Trademark Office via Engadget | Image via U.S. Patent & Trademark Office

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36 Comments

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If it was a single curved/flexible screen i think it would work much better and negate the need to have so many individual screens.

I love how people are so quick to discredit a concept, that probably wasn't even meant for public show yet. Concepts are nothing more than an idea, one that hasn't even been roughed out or tested. How else do you all think new innovations come to fruition, through rough concepts such as this. Nokia does have a research lab, where the sole task to conceptualize and research future technologies and product idea. If these didn't exist, most products we see wouldn't never have happened. The way I see this, is that this is a placeholder concept until flexible oled screens are viable. This just shows what could be done with multiple screens instead

People understand the realities of concept products but are criticising this because it just doesn't make sense. There's no advantage to having multiple small screens over a single big screen, especially if it is curved around the wrist.

This is a bad concept product.

Keep in mind the video is the concept. I am sure the displays would be thinner in a shipping version. Also keep in mind this was a concept and the patent is for the concept. This does not mean it will actually ship.

Yikes. That's more of a bracelet than a watch. I don't think I would be comfortable wearing that much unless each panel was quite thin.

Speech yeh. For anything other than short messages it would be easier to just get your phone out of your pocket

DomZ said,
Speech yeh. For anything other than short messages it would be easier to just get your phone out of your pocket

The limited screen size obviously limits functionality on those .. functions lol.
If I would ever get something alike, it would be more like to "read" or to view things, not really to to interact.

Imo looks cool , but as a 33yo I don't think its my type , maybe for hipster's or something but not me , I will just stick to billabong, ripcurl, quicksilver watches....

EvilAstroboy said,
Imo looks cool , but as a 33yo I don't think its my type , maybe for hipster's or something but not me , I will just stick to billabong, ripcurl, quicksilver watches....

Don't listen to Nik. That comment wasn't stupid, and he's just being rude.

Anyhow, I thought that 33yo was right in the hipster age bracket. That you're too old to be a hipster makes me feel positively ancient!

EvilAstroboy said,
Imo looks cool , but as a 33yo I don't think its my type , maybe for hipster's or something but not me , I will just stick to billabong, ripcurl, quicksilver watches....

lol a 33yo wearing teenage surf/skate gear saying this is too hipster.
Its too dorky and impractical in its current state. Hipster it is not.

Shadowzz said,
I find this to be a better design than the single display watches I've seen so far.

Too many corners around your wrist for my taste. I would probably break it the first day...

Fritzly said,

Too many corners around your wrist for my taste. I would probably break it the first day...

Your comment is like comparing an Apple // with a Macbook Air. The first versions are always worse than later versions.

Imagine a watch where the screens are 1cm x 2cm, or the size of a link in a thick chain. Then thin the screen down until it's really slim, and you have a regular watch, but with screens for links.

greenwizard88 said,

Your comment is like comparing an Apple // with a Macbook Air. The first versions are always worse than later versions.

Imagine a watch where the screens are 1cm x 2cm, or the size of a link in a thick chain. Then thin the screen down until it's really slim, and you have a regular watch, but with screens for links.

First: there is a big difference between the dimension of the screen itself and the viewable area: a 1x2 cm. would probably have a 8x18 mm. viewable area; being 56 years old for me is a no go.
Second: the thickness and the shape of the wrist what would the most important factors affecting how the device bends around. For example, and I am examining only the wrist factor, a rounded one would allow a better and smoother wrapping.
Finally I do not debate that in the future these smart watches, as well as many other technologies, will evolve therefore yes, we could have thinner devices or maybe we will have smartphones projecting an image in front of your eyes, like a HUD, making a smart watch useless.