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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