IBM — the world’s largest tech patent holder and one of the most advanced innovation laboratories in the planet — heard some of you like foldable phones and asked someone to hold its beer while it invented this folding smartwatch that can go from watch to phone to full tablet.
If it were some other company I would probably just laugh about this crazy contraption, but we are talking about Big Blue. These people don’t joke around. Even while Apple and Google get all the headlines, IBM has been at the cutting edge of computing tech since the 50s, from the dominant mainframes of the 60s to the first successful AI to the first commercial quantum computer. The company is responsible for some of the most advanced innovations in history and it seems they are not stopping thinking outside of the box.
But this patent published by the US Patent and Trademark Office on June 11, 2019, and unearthed by Dutch tech publication Lets Go Digital, may be too much.
The patent, titled Variable display size for an electronic display device, describes a wristband device that looks like a watch. It has a rectangular display in portrait mode with no bezels at all.
Under the watch there are seven additional displays stored in compartments. While Lets Go Digital says that the patent doesn’t clearly describe how the unfolding or assembly process works, IBM claims that users would be able to extend the area of the display from one to two to four to eight panels.
Eight panels, each 3 x 2 inches. That’s 12 x 8 inches at its maximum size. At that point, your smartwatch is a tablet. Or a shield to defend yourself. Whatever works.
Can IBM pull such a device out of its magic hat? Probably. But — given their current focus on consulting, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing — I can‘t see them releasing a consumer product like this. And the Chinese will do it first, anyway.