Apple Patent Reveals Mysterious Device with 360-Degree Screen

Apple has patented a weird thingamajig that looks like nothing I’ve ever seen. It’s a cylindrical solid, but it can also be triangular, rectangular, or oval. And it has a screen wrapping all around it encased in synthetic sapphire that you can control with motion and touch.

Is this some kind of new iPod? A new phone form factor? What the hell is this goddamn thing, Tim? Jony? Craig? Bueller? Bueller? We don’t really know.

Credit: Jesus Diaz

(Image credit: Jesus Diaz)

According to My Smart Price, the patent goes into deep detail about everything about this thing. From manufacturing a casing that can be made of transparent polymer, transparent ceramic, or synthetic sapphire — the patent meticulously describes how a sapphire body can be made — to the way components are placed inside, with flexible wrap-around displays glued to the sapphire glass to hard printed circuit boards that include accelerometers and gyroscopes.

Credit: Apple/Mysmartprice

(Image credit: Apple/Mysmartprice)

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In fact, the patent also details how this device will use motion to control the hardware, talking about rotating or moving the gadget to scroll pages or play games that make use of the rolling wraparound flexible display. You can see the different shapes here, which include phone-like bodies too:

Credit: Apple/Mysmartprice

(Image credit: Apple/Mysmartprice)

The more I look at that triangular and cylindrical volúmenes, the more I’m at lost about what this can be and why I would need to buy it as opposed to a regular phone. For some reason, the triangular thing reminds me of Superman memory crystals.

Could this be a new future form factor?

The Cupertino company has not introduced a completely new product since the Apple Watch in 2015. And while the Apple Watch Series 4has apparently been selling well and it is finally delivering some amazing health-oriented functionality in ECG readings, it’s hardly the groundbreaking product that the iPhone or even the iPad were once.

We know Apple is obviously working on AR Glasses, which will be a fully new product line. Apple AR Glasses fully realizes the vision of ARKit and Tim Cook’s bullish ideas on the future of AR in personal devices and social networks.

Credit: Apple/Mysmartprice

(Image credit: Apple/Mysmartprice)

But while AR Glasses have a clear application, this thing doesn’t have on. I have no clue about what this thing does and what market it will serve except being some weird variation of the form factor. Or perhaps it’s just some exploratory path that the company abandoned and patented just in case.

Whatever it is, it’s nice to see that Apple is actually thinking out of the box a little bit, rather than just churning out new versions of products with superfluous new features. As they should, because corporate empires don’t last forever.

With smartphone sales becoming stagnant, Apple really needs to start innovating again and create a new market to fuel new growth. Otherwise, someone else will invent the Next Big Thing.

Jesus Diaz

Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story and wrote old angry man rants, among other things. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce, and currently writes for Fast Company and Tom's Guide.