Apple looks to Bend its Stiff iPhone Form Factor

by Matt Klassen on April 4, 2013

Wearable technology is indeed a broad term. Technically speaking, anyone who wears a fancy watch is sporting a wearable computer. But as such a mindset progressed, wearable computing came to mean so much more, with companies like Google and Apple conceptualizing tertiary wearable devices that would interact with one’s smartphones, ostensibly acting as a heads-up display that would allow users to avoid many of those public smartphone induced hypnosis faux pas.

But recently the entire wearable technology genre has taken yet another turn, with company’s no longer conceptualizing and prototyping wearable accessories that work in concert with one’s smartphone, but conceiving of wearable devices that replace one’s smartphone altogether.

While Apple isn’t quite at the stage that Google is at with its Google Glass eyewear project, the Cupertino tech giant made some waves this past week as news that it was granted a patent for a curved screen flexible iPhone design, with applications either as a stand-alone flexible all screen smartphone or perhaps as the wrist mounted smartphone that many of us mused about almost three years ago.

Curves, flexibility, and an all-screen design may be in the cards for the iPhone, that is if the fading brand has enough legs to get Apple through the many years that now separate us from initial concept to consumer ready product. But not to be underdone by Google’s paradigm shifting technology, its clear Apple continues to think about the future, or at least patent the future should it ever need to rely on its fallback career as a patent troll, grabbing the intellectual property rights for a flexible, curved-screen phone.

That said, I do have to wonder how Apple was ever granted such a forward thinking smartphone design, given that Nokia thought it almost two years ago when it showed off some of its own mind-bending designs.

But as the application itself explains, such an all-screen, button-less, flexible device is truly the future of the smartphone market. “Electronic devices have settled into a standard form factor; namely a flat planar form factor with a display on one side and an opaque housing which contains the electrical components covering the rear surface of the device,” the application said.

“Unfortunately, this popular form factor leaves the sides and rear surfaces of the device unused or at best configured with buttons and switches with fixed location and functionality. Therefore, there exists a need for an improved form factor for portable electronic devices which allows functionality to extend to more than one surface of the device.”

Such a futuristic device again would have no buttons, knowing how and when to properly interact with its user through face recognition technology, coupled with multiple transparent displays giving it a 3D quality and hand-gesture control that would allow for remote manipulation, truly the phone of the future.

But just when would such a phone be ready for market? Rumours had it that Apple purchased the requisite glass-cutting and forming tools before it launched the iPhone 5, evidence perhaps that such plans were already in the works and that this patent application, instead of being an initial step, is actually one of the company’s final steps towards bringing this paradigm altering product to market…but don’t count it. If such a phone ever comes to fruition (and there’s no guarantee) think at least five years, and that’s if things go well.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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