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Apple has a well-documented penchant for patenting some pretty far-out technology. However, in a patent granted to the Silicon Valley tech-giant just last Thursday, it appears the future of Cupertino’s wearable device displays and components could take on a new form, consistency, and depth of interaction, altogether.
The technical mumbo jumbo, as described in Apple’s patent filing with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, is a bit too complex even for my own understanding — so please bear with me as I try to break it down for you.. In essence, Apple’s patent outlines the details pertaining to “Transparent structures filled with electrically active fluid that responds to an applied voltage by conducting current or changing crystalline structure.”
In theory, this crystalline fluid display technology can take the form of multiple embodiments, several of which aren’t even limited to just the LCD or AMOLED display, itself, but also the surrounding components, connections, and sensors — such as those currently employed for heart rate monitoring and fitness tracking on Apple Watch.
Imagine, for instance, a transparent outer shell, filled with a precise dosage of crystalline fluids that can shift in shape, form, or color, depending on the interaction between said fluids and a series of electrodes and/or connections that sit directly beneath them. An example could embody a future Apple Watch display featuring a form of 3D Touch capabilities —a la Apple’s iPhone 6s and iPhone 7 — but with considerably more leeway for user interaction, boasting a transparent, shape-shifting, polychromatic rendering design.
The crystalline fluids, encased by the outermost, transparent shell, which would be filed by the underlying voltage currents, could, theoretically speaking, result in a display that both shifts in shape and color. In a similar embodiment, the bands and connections surrounding Apple Watch’s chassis could also be reengineered, so as to be built using this same technology in order to put forth more advanced sensors capable of more accurately representing one’s vital signs, for example.
It’s quite ironic, I think, that Apple is finally toying with the idea of implementing this technology. Years ago, when the company was first considering designs and materials to use in the development of its first generation Apple Watch, several engineers reportedly suggested that the heart rate sensor, for instance, should be positioned within the Watch’s band, itself, as opposed to the chassis where it currently resides. The theory, which was ultimately rejected by Apple — citing current design trends and the company’s desire to market additional bands featuring different material compositions, would have resulted in a far more accurate reading of one’s heart rate.
Interestingly enough, another embodiment of these transparent, crystalline fluids could take the form of an actual Apple Watch band, itself — wherein the fluids, working in conjunction with underlying sensors and connections, could give rise to a slew of fundamentally more accurate Apple Watch sensors.
No word, of course, in regards to when, or even if, this technology will debut. However, this patent could give Apple Watch lovers hope of a future wearable unlike any we’ve ever seen before.
Does this technology sound useful or just a little too far out for you?
Let us know in the comments!
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]